28 Sep 2013

kaigou: Roy Mustang, pondering mid-read. (1 pondering)
Last week Aliette de Bodard posted A Few Thoughts on Other Cultures and Diversity in SFF over at tor.com. It's been open on my rss reader since, as I've re-read and contemplated. Among her many good pieces of advice, she had this bit to say:

I have lost count of how many narratives on China featured ... over-formality between members of the same family (because everyone knows that Chinese is a formal language! Guess what. Most communications within the family are brutally simple, because the respect is already implicit in the relationship itself); use of broken English (because all immigrants/foreigners speak bad English!)...

Between trying to learn new work-stuff as fast as I can (with go-live date looming large and only just now behind me, yay), and doing lots more research on economics, monetary systems, the beginnings of international trade, the transition from debt-bondage to outright slavery, and so on... I've been letting the next book(s) simmer. The story's taking mental shape, but I keep coming back to this point from de Bodard.

I've posted before about how English-language authors will represent the speakers of another language. Unlike Ludlum (see link), I have read authors who use broken-English to indicate when a character is speaking an unfamiliar/unlearned language. That doesn't bother me, so long as the character speaks fluently in their own language (albeit translated into English as well, for the sake of the book). The tl;dr of Ludlum is that he didn't do this; his non-white characters speak in broken English even when they're supposedly speaking their native tongue.

Thus, my preliminary hypothesis: do not have 'broken speaking' for any characters speaking their native tongue. Broken speaking should only indicate when someone is speaking an unfamiliar or new language (and, as the character learns, the broken-ness should slowly fade). Okay. Onward with more thinky thoughts about language and othering. )


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
锴 angry fishtrap 狗

to remember

"When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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