Foreign Language

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Foreign Language

Post by Ermo » February 2nd, 2010, 3:10 pm

Is it cliche/annoying/taboo to have a character that occasionally speaks in another language?

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Re: Foreign Language

Post by Anavaz » February 2nd, 2010, 3:45 pm

I seriously hope none of the above since I have a character who speaks in Spanish from time to time, just a little here and there.

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Re: Foreign Language

Post by Nick » February 2nd, 2010, 4:51 pm

I would say nope, nope, and nope. Although in the cliche category I would like to just say, if you have a character speaking another language because they were born there or of that ancestry or some sort of valid reason like that, I don't see a problem with it (an Italian character in my own WIP tends to say...harsh things in Italian). But if you're like throwing in a nice big French cocktail to a romance novel, you're well past skating on cliche ice and may as well be swimmin in the lake.

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Re: Foreign Language

Post by Emily White » February 2nd, 2010, 5:23 pm

Of course not! As much as we may like to think it to be true, the world does not just speak English. It's completely realistic (and not at all cliche) to have characters speaking a different language Though, as a reader, I like to see a discreet translation here and there so that I don't feel completely lost. ;)
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Re: Foreign Language

Post by tameson » February 2nd, 2010, 6:11 pm

My character "cusses" in Chinese. I never translate, mostly because really all he is calling the guy is a dim sum dish, which for a long list of cultural reasons in my book is extremely offensive and people who know the dish can think about it and go, yeah, that makes sense. But if I were to try to explain it, it would lose its impact.

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Re: Foreign Language

Post by Kaitlyne » February 5th, 2010, 9:38 pm

Tameson, you just made me think of Firefly. Cursing in Chinese was probably my favorite part of that. :D Anyway, I don't really think it's a bad thing. If you're talking about long passages that have to be translated it might not work, but I've thrown random bits of other languages into stories before, and if it works and makes sense for the character, I don't see why it couldn't work. :)

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Re: Foreign Language

Post by Bron » February 6th, 2010, 7:55 am

My main character speaks French and spends some of the manuscript in a French-speaking country. If she's just saying a few words I'll put them in French. If she's having an in-depth conversation with someone I'll note that she said it in French but have it in English in the manuscript. I think as long as there's a good reason for the character to speak in another language it's fine.

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