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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 ...


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.


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.

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