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Subject: Re: Multiple Languages - How to? (And this site really needs backspace protection!)
Author: the dying daylight   (Authenticated as the dying daylight)
Date: June 8, 2012 at 6:18:41 PM
Reply to: Multiple Languages - How to? (And this site really needs backspace protection!) by Lopus H. Etterie
Version three, definitely.

Version one is frankly a bit offensive. Do you speak-ski the english-ski? No. No, no, no. I don't mean to be rude, but this would never, ever, ever work and if it offends me as a non-native Russian speaker, I can't imagine how it offends native Russian speakers. What the hell is ye olde style Russian-y sound-y words? Russian is a language. It has words, grammar and an alphabet, it can be translated and transliterated (with certain acceptable variants), and that is it. You can't say the Russian for Apple is Pamplemousse or Euooo, and you can't say it is YHeeeablohkua or Apple-ski either. It's Яблока, Yabloka or Apple if you're sticking with English, simple. Since writing transliterated Russian is tantamount to writing Russian in a different alphabet, admittedly in a different alphabet, but it's still Russian and is still what is used if Cyrillic is problematic, impossible or inappropriate, I just do not understand what you mean here. I might be being a little bit mean, but seriously! Oh, and if you mean 'phonetic Russian', Russian and its accepted transliterations are largely phonetic for the most part in the first place, so, again...erm...?

Version two - Ага, так, ты свободно говоришь по-русский, и как будто бы это твой родной язык? Молодец! Okay, yes, that was terrible and lazy Russian, and I know I bungled the last clause into a mess but it's past 1 a.m here and I can't put my finger on why it sucks and I know that I know nothing about you and maybe you speak perfect Russian... but if you know nothing about the language, avoid it. It's patronising, pretentious and it adds nothing. Also, unless you have a native speaker on hand, you are probably going to get into a mess. If you're only having people saying stuff like 'Nu, otets, blah blah blah' or 'Hey, look there dyeda', it may also look like they're speaking English and using foreign language names or throwing foreign words into conversation. I live in a multilingual household where we tend to gravitate towards English, but things become blurred and we chuck random works in where they don't belong. I did German and call my mother Mutti every once in a blue moon, because it's cute. What does that prove? Nothing. I know a lot of modern households like ours, particularly multi-ethnic ones or ones cursed with linguists, and so it kind of doesn't prove much. Besides, if you say he's Russian, why do you need to labour the point? It could start to look like he's speaking English and Russian. Either way, it's pretentious, awkward, alienating and if you don't speak impeccable Russian you're going to screw up somewhere.

Version three - Yes. If the dialogue is important, who cares what language they're speaking? Let it be implicit. If the implication is that other people don't understand, say "Dad said 'FOOOL!', I said 'Huzzah!' and Bob's eyes glazed over with a mist of linguistic alienation". Okay, maybe not that, but show that other characters don't understand or something - if we know they're Russian, we might suspect that they're speaking Russian rather than Korean or Breton. If the dialogue is so trivial that you feel you can put it all in Russian, it shouldn't be there. It's wasting space and slowing things down and it will look showy, pathetic and will inevitably bite you on the bum - think Darren Brown. Equally, shoving Russian words in for no reason other than to show you know what Russian is or show that they are Russian, something which might as well be implicit, eh, I don't know... it just doesn't work. It will be, if anything, stilted. Leave it in English and let your reader use their brains. Imply, if needs be, be stylistic, but avoid #1 and #2.

This message was edited by the author on June 8, 2012 at 6:25:16 PM

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