Sunday, December 12, 2010

Do Mess With a Good Thing

If you mess with a good thing enough, it'll get gooder.

The loose series of Alan stories I write are essentially trilingual since they're set in SE Asia. I've been slowly upping the amount of foreign language I incorporate into it so I can experiment with techniques for doing so.

Bad Idea
What I'd really like to do is put the foreign language that the viewpoint character is unable to understand in non-English script. That's moving into comic strip/graphic novel territory. It'd make me feel better though, for two reasons. One, there's not really a clear transliteration scheme for a lot of these languages, so native speakers would find it hard to read. Two, the trilingual nature would be illustrated more clearly for the reader, because of the different scripts.
/Bad Idea

The main point is that if everything gets translated into English, the reader doesn't quite get most of the character's issues, because they understand everything. Joke subtitles only work in cheap comedies, not in magical realism.

What I'd really like to end up with is something like this, where you don't need to understand the second language to get the idea/joke:

Good stuff.


I always assume that these Olde Tyme Magazines were just really genteel pornography.

This is just the only position they were allowed back then.

250 words? Yes
Book "Lived Too Long to Die"
- - - -
Reading - The Put-Ons of Personal Essayists
(The Chronicle Review)


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