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Foreign Languages - Translations

Capt Zapp

I have a character in one of the stories I am trying to get written that tries speaking in several different languages with another character before finally getting a matching language. (Imagine someone trying to find a common language in movies. "parlez-vous français? Sprechen Sie Deutsch? ¿Habla español? oday ouyay eakspay igpay atinlay?")

Since the dialog is not "do you speak (language)", and some of the languages are non-Terran, should I include translations somewhere?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Capt Zapp


Since the dialog is not "do you speak (language)", and some of the languages are non-Terran, should I include translations somewhere?


Unless the actual meaning of the dialog is not important to understanding the story, I would say no.

However, for the non-Terran languages, in my opinion, it is important for the reader to be able to from a mental image of what the spoken dialog would sound like if they were there listening to it, even if that mental image is imperfect.

This also applies to real human languages that use an alphabet foreign to the intended audience.

Written text is different matter.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

As per the other discussion about foreign languages, context is essential. If they're just saying "Hello", then the reader will guess the non-Terran languages are saying the same thing. But to add to DS's suggestion (and this is one of the few instances I'd use phonetic spelling), I suggest having the person they're speaking to repeat the more exotic non-Terran language so they can get a feel for it. It's like an American in a foreign country trying to repeat everything someone says to him as a question: "Spreken Me Deutsch?"

I'm assuming that everything meaningful is conveyed once they've identified a common language. You also might want to show the first few lines of the non-Terran language (if you can) as the AI first starts translating it, so the readers get a feel for the transition. If not (i.e. if you're not a language expert and font designer) then just fake it or skip that part.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


You also might want to show the first few lines of the non-Terran language (if you can)


There is no more than one sentence in any of the non-English languages.

This is the first 'conversation':

-=-=-

"Galdah hurisa keal Harvey. Klabt odu ekla zindo?" asked a not-quite-feminine voice.

-=Welcome back mister Harvey. Can you understand me?=-

Harvey was the only word Jason recognized. It was his last name. He grimaced again as he shaded his eyes. "I don't know what you said, but can you please turn down the lights?"

-=-=-

After the failed attempt, the female makes an 'adjustment' to Jason's brain which is supposed to allow him to understand her. after each 'adjustment', he 'hears' her in a different language. Until she gets the correct setting, she can't understand him either.

The part between the -= and =- is the translation. Should I leave that in?

Edited due to formatting error due to "< -"

Crumbly Writer

That works, and it gives a feel for the language.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Klatu birida est.

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Capt Zapp

@richardshagrin

Klaatu barada nikto!

tppm

Based on having seen to original film, "Klaatu barada est." is bilingual (alien destrutor bot and Latin) nonsense, -=Klaatu says est=-. The original is -=Klaatu says stop.=-.

BTW I, like nearly everyone who saw the original, know two words in that language (Klaatu is the alien emissary's name).

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