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A quick question to non native English writers

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by 2WayParadox, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    I'm not a native English speaker and I'm noticing this here on this forum, since autocorrect isn't on. Not that I consider myself a bad speller, but there are some weird English words out there.

    I'm actually from Belgium and my native language is Dutch. For some reason I prefer to write in English, I think it's a superior language for writing in. That could be because I don't have any real experience writing in Dutch, but let's put that aside.

    I've been reading indie author power pack and it's eye-opening, enticing and also scary. Say that you you self publish a story of yours, originally written in English, would you bother translating it into your native tongue?
     
  2. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello 2WayParadox, and first of all, welcome to Mythic Scribes!

    I am also not a native speaker of English, and like you, I have decided to write my stories using it because I think that English is a far superior language in many ways. I was programmed to think this way while I was growing up, and now, even though I have written some stories in my native Castilian, I have decided to keep writing in English.

    When I compare it to Castilian, English is simpler, more elegant and so much easier to use without all the crazy complications that my native language suffers from. My stories flow faster and more naturally, it's easier to build nice-sounding paragraphs and descriptions and I get less distracted by the nature of the language that I am using.

    English is always one step ahead of me (so many words that I do not know, new expressions and so on) but what can I do? I keep learning it every day, because after all English is the one and also it happens to be the leading language, by far, in the world of Fantasy literature.

    In answer to your question: I would never translate my English language stories to Castilian because that would be just a waste of time. Actually, I am considering to re-write my Castilian stories in English and forget about the inferior originals, because so many more people would be able to read them in English.
     
  3. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Hi, do you guys mind if I ask you a quick question or two?

    What is it about English that appeals to you? Why do you think it's better for writing in than your first languages?

    Personally, I as a native speaker have always thought English a weird language. A murky conjugation system, words borrowed from tens of other languages, inconsistent spelling and pronunciation rules galore...

    However, I do love Old English (because it's simple, yet poetic, and has a distinct rhythm), and in my writing I try to use as few Latinate and Norman-French origin words as I can. It makes Modern English flow beautifully, to cut out all the extras that have been tacked onto it and take it back to its Germanic roots.
     
  4. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello, Tom.

    1- What is it about English that appeals to you? It's not really that English appeals to me. Sometimes I love English, but other times I totally hate it and I can never decide what are my true feelings about it.

    Imagine that all of the most successful and famous books, movies, TV series and more were made in, let's say, French. Then your parents push you to learn French since you are very little because it's the best language of all and it will open many doors for you, and after struggling to learn it, you discover that it gives you a great advantage indeed.

    To start with, I would not even be part of Mythic Scribes if I had never learned English. Sometimes I go through loads of bitterness and a battle of feelings inside of me because of this, but I accept that it was great for me to learn this language.

    2- Why do you think it's better for writing in than your first languages? As I said before, writing in English seems much easier, faster and better flowing than it feels with the complexities and clumsiness of Castilian. You mentioned that the conjugation system of English seems murky to you, but it feels great to me because in Castilian we have over fifty different conjugations for each verb and many of them are crazily irregular.

    English is better especially if you write Fantasy. Take a look at the most famous works of Fantasy in our days, and most of them are written in English. This means that if I want my stories to be read by the maximum possible number of Fantasy fans, it's better to write them in English instead of any other language.

    I still love Castilian somehow, but sometimes I feel like it's just a useless wreck and I wish that English was my native language instead. Then I tell myself that there is beauty in Castilian too, and another part of me starts to say Forget it! English rules the world... and so on, and so on...

    That's how I feel about my two languages.
     
    Tom likes this.
  5. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    Why? I'd say it's largely a gut feeling, I have written some small things in Dutch and it worked out fine but what can I say...

    First of all, English is easy, so easy. I think I have a decent vocabulary, although I won't know anywhere near as many obscure words as a native speaker would. But I don't see that as a problem, I want to keep my writing relatively simple. It feels fluent and enjoyable to write in English. Also, in English it's possible to be more concise than in Dutch.

    There's probably more to it, but it's just kind of hard to think of an answer.

    I mainly asked about the translating because the first fantasy book I read in English was Harry Potter 5, I suddenly realized 'Holy shitballs, those translated versions really aren't up to standard'. But still, I'd been reading for years by then and I'd enjoyed many translated stories. I've done translating before (Dutch - English) and I'm pretty fluent for somebody with no training as a translator. So it's not an impossibility for me to translate my own work, although it is a large amount of work. Then again, if you self publish you could offer both of the books for the price of one. Or you can sell them separately.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
    Tom likes this.
  6. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    Unfortunately I've never learnt to speak Flemish - too many of its proponents speak either English or Français to have made the effort I'm afraid. But what is your potential reader population from Nederlands speakers?

    English is the most flexible of modern languages - probably the most flexible that has ever existed. More synonyms than any other, from more roots. Actually, it's quite difficult to find a language from which English hasn't - um- adopted a word or two. It has words as soft as Italiano, as harsh as Swiitzerteutsch - probably because that't where it stole them from. For science fiction, it is the language in the forefront of research, it's practical elimination of the second person singular enables immediate recognisable antiquity to dialogue.

    Rhythmically it is more germanic than latin, and the rhymes are more rigid than say French, with its unvoiced suffixes, but it's mainly a popular language for poetry because of its huge vocabulary.

    Yes, English is my mother tongue and I love it, even if I do tend to overuse its various advantages, at least those I've already mentioned. For there is another benefit to writing in the language of Shakespeare that I am not expecting to win on - it has the largest number of readers of any language on the planet.
     
  7. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    You're preaching to the converted, chrispy. I didn't know why English was so useful, but it's always nice to see exactly why it's so useful.

    My potential reader population for a translation might be hopeful: amazon.nl exists and has a selection of 20000 Dutch and Belgian books. A competitor of theirs has 24000. Those numbers are quite small compared to the numbers of books on amazon.com. I don't know, maybe it's worth it.
     
  8. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    I've tried to write poetry in German. It didn't work out well. I was going crazy, obsessing over the fact that I couldn't find enough rhyming synonyms, and that Iambic pentameter isn't particularly compatible with some of those hellishly long words.

    Finally I just told myself, "Why don't you just write it in English, idiot? You're more familiar with that language, and it actually has a rhythm!"

    A great poet I am not, especially in my second language.
     
  9. 2WayParadox

    2WayParadox Sage

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    There are translations of poetry, but it's apparently some of the hardest stuff to translate and you need to be a poet yourself to even be able to do it a little properly
     
  10. chrispenycate

    chrispenycate Sage

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    When translingual poetry is done well, it is not a straight translation, but an adaptation, which means that the central core of the meaning can be modified. I'm no poet myself, a mere wordsmith not an artist, but I have converted a number of songs between English and French, in both directions, and there you are restricted to identical rhythms to the original (and editors accepting the finished work as a reference translation, for legal and copyright restrictions, unlike writing original works), which guarantees the sense and sensibility will change.

    When it is 'just' poetry there is more flexibility - the iambic structure which underlies so much of English verse can mutate into the tertiary more common in French, but this won't hold for song.

    I wonder if the mediaeval minstrel, already challenged by the change of dialect every twenty miles or so, would shift the tune's rhythms to match the local speech or perform in 'foreign', confident that his audience wasn't listening to the words anyway.
     
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