Writing Tips: Using Authentic Dialogue From Languages Other Than English – by Julie Tetel Andresen…

on The Creative Penn:

We live in a highly mobile, globalized world. As a result of this current reality, it is only natural for us novelists to want to create characters from different places, some of whom may have grown up speaking languages other than Standard American English (SAE).

It is also natural that we might want to set our stories in places other than the United States.

Given our webbed world, we can also now expect the audiences for our stories to be global. So, be aware that some part of your audience is likely to be linguistically sophisticated.

They know what it’s like to be bi- or even multilingual and can spot a supposedly bilingual character who doesn’t ring true. The same holds for creating characters who speak a variety of English other than SAE.

You’re writing a novel, not a grammar book or a travelogue. You don’t want to give your readers language lessons. But you do want your non-native SAE characters to sound authentic. And you do want to bring your foreign settings to life. A well-chosen word or two from the local language can help. In all cases, a light touch will do. Here are some tips from a linguist’s point of view:

Continue reading HERE


7 thoughts on “Writing Tips: Using Authentic Dialogue From Languages Other Than English – by Julie Tetel Andresen…

  1. Good information. I think Diana Gabaldon did a great job in integrating Gaelic into her books. I had to do some research for the book I just finished set in the 17th century. You need to make the language easily readable – I discovered that contractions were used except for can’t..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Do this often. problem is, my character speak in what can only be described as Valleyines. What that is is a hack sawed, sideways, mashed together version of Spanglish (Spanish and English) but with it’s own version, syntax, and such. An example, the term “que no.” In straight Spanish, that means “Not.” But in the valley, it might not be uncommon for two people to be talking and finish it with “Que no.” In Valleynes, it pretty much means, “you know” or “Isn’t that true.”

    So when I’m double checking that, I turn to buddy RJ who let’s me know if it’s true spanish, or what the Valley equivelant would be.

    Liked by 1 person


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