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14

How much of this language are you going to use? Single words? Phrases? Sentences? Paragraphs? If it's just a few words or phrases, make up a few, be consistent in their usage, and call it a day. If you're carrying on entire dialogues in this tongue, I would first recommend "Don't overdo it." For the purposes of your question (and I Am Not A Linguist, so ...


11

If you're writing for an English audience, your readers are expecting an English novel. From a reader perspective, it is utterly tedious to read a lot of dialogue you cannot understand. Providing translations can help, but that's equally tedious, since the POV character won't have those translations. I would recommend keeping use of foreign language to a ...


9

You're looking for balance, so the answer is double edged: Stay compelling by avoiding drifting off on tangents; don't explain about your world where it isn't relevant to the story at hand and to the readers' interest. Convey your world by choosing a structure and a plot where the elements you want to convey feature heavily. If your setting elements are ...


8

If you want to establish a language with a foreign touch in your story, the "cheapest" way to do it, is using an already existing one as reference. I did something similar. I invented a language for using magic. I took Latin as base and transformed the words, so that they were not directly recognizable as Latin, but still give the reader the touch of an ...


5

The resource that most conlangers point to is the venerable Language Construction Kit. It's quite extensive. It mostly concerns the linguistic aspects of making your language, but it does address some of the issues about making your conlang believable.


4

Depends on a few factors: 1) Is the narrative's point of view from the person who doesn't understand, the person who does, or omniscient? CJ Cherryh writes books where the humans are the outsiders in non-human societies. Until the human catches up with the non-human language, the human sounds like Cookie Monster. "Me want food! Me went store, but no has ...


4

I would refine the advice thus: Translate the viewpoint character's experience into the language of the reader. That is, if the viewpoint character hears gibberish, you translate the experience of hearing gibberish into the reader's language.


3

I created my own language for a game, and I've come to learn a lot from it. I am no expert on linguistics, and my tips are a bit random/rambling, but maybe they might help. Here's some of what I would suggest: Try to create something with only a few basic rules, so it is easy for you to remember. Readers will not like noticing that your fictional language ...


3

Just another quick point to add to the already excellent answers. I've been known to develop really in-depth worlds as well, and it can be hard to step away and only use the parts you need for a particular plot/story. However. The thing that always helps me come to terms with it a bit more, and a way around having done all that research and planning ...


2

As has been said, it is easiest to adapt an existing language. There are many synthetic languages that you can use, depending on your need and audience. If you were writing a historical romance, for instance, use of the Klingon language from Star Trek would most likely be unknown to your readers, so it would seem to be something new. On the other hand, it ...


2

Some of the problems with world building is that none of the characters in the story care about it. It's the only world they know, so they don't look at the zebras with antlers pulling sleds any more than we comment on every car that drives by. If we do comment on a car, it's because the car is different in our world view. An alien coming here might shrug at ...


1

There is one very specific situation in which it is a good idea to write down the words spoken in the language that is not understood by the point-of-view character, and it occurs when you want the reader to experience vicariously, as closely simulated as possible, whatever the POV character is experiencing when he or she hears the language being spoken.


1

This is a tremendous online resource/tutorial on inventing languages: http://www.zompist.com/kit.html There's also ConLang: http://conlang.wikia.com/wiki/Create_a_Language But the best advice would be to buy a copy of Holly Lisle's 'Create A Language Clinic': http://shop.hollylisle.com/index.php?crn=1&rn=367&action=show_detail I have a copy and ...


1

The same problem applies to writers who wear their research on their sleeve. Did you ever read a novel and realize that half of it could have been pared away, that half the book was unnecessary scenes were the writer just wanted the reader to know all this cool stuff thei found out? (Cough Neal Stephenson cough) World-building is similar to research in one ...


1

If the POV character doesn't know the language, then the reader won't be able to understand it either. A fix could be separate chapters in different POVs allowing the reader to 'learn' the language. An advantage in this case is that the readers will know more than the characters in the book. It's always good to let the readers have and edge on things; ...


1

It depends on readers you are targeting. Leaving foreign language fragments fully untranslated could be quite challenging for a reader but then they (fragments) need to be used sparsely and carefully. No matter whether the foreign language is constructed or just unknown (and unfamiliar) among your potential readers. Edit: Content (meaning) of a foreign ...



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