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14

You have two options depending on context: 1) If it's a quick exchange and can be figured out in context, put the foreign language in italics. "As-tu le livre?" "Yes, I have the book here." or inline: "You filthy p'taQ!" B'Elanna snarled. 2) If it's a quick exchange without context, put the translation afterwards and italicize that. "Pour ma peine, ...


11

Mix and match between all the following methods. Research. If you're going to be using a language extensively, then you'll want to have at least an elementary grasp of the words you'll be using. So learn a smattering of the language; understand the words you've written at least at a surface level; also read as much as you can about idioms, social norms, ...


10

FWIW, I faced exactly this problem in a novel I wrote a few years ago that included a large amount of both spoken and signed dialogue. Having such a large amount of italicized text was distracting for the reasons discussed in other answers, so my approach was a punctuation convention: "Spoken dialogue goes in normal quotes like this," he said. «But ...


8

The way I see it, if the foreign language usage is important to the story, then use it in italics. If not, just avoid putting it explicitly in the text. For example, assume you write a fantasy novel in which Elves always add the word Ur-Sook when addressing little children. Compare: "Not now, Ur-Sook!" the Elf waved the child away. "Not now!" the Elf ...


7

Hmm... Let's see how I can't be of help, shall we? Try this: Read famous works that are translations from source materials in the language you want to add to your manuscript. See if there's a phrase that caught your eye and see what it looks like in the original work. Look up common expressions and idioms in 'the foreign language' from websites that teach ...


6

Ditto Neil's reply. A lot to be learned from a master of migrancy literature, Salman Rushdie. While The Satanic Verses is written in English, the narration itself, not just the dialogue, utilizes Hindi, Arabic, and Urdu. Jokes within the text rely on the reader's understanding of multiple languages, but the plot doesn't; Saladin Chamcha is called "Spoono" in ...


5

In general, it's my opinion that a story should pick a language and stick to it. Even though many people speak multiple languages, having a book in more than one language means you're limiting yourself to a subset of possible readers. Ask yourself: What purpose does it serve to the story and characters to quote them speaking in more than one language? If a ...


4

Try to avoid using another foreign language as a stand-in for the language you're wanting to portray (like, say, using Swedish as a stand-in for Romani, as was done in Thinner). I'd treat that as the most absolute requirement. Try to avoid long passages in another language. If you're finding yourself using much longer sections than "a sentence", it will ...


3

I think it's less about which language is the main or secondary (or tertiary or...fourthary?) and more about differentiating between them (as I stated in my answer to the other question). But broader than that, I think it would depend on the scene. Do the characters understand each other? Are they communicating entirely in the secondary language? If it's ...


2

I think you're on the right track. The point of italics is to alert the reader that the words are not in the same language as the rest of the text. I like the logic that the English-spoken "si" wouldn't be italicized. I wouldn't italicize titles or single words, as those are easy enough to understand, even when the first word is Spanish and the rest is ...


2

It is possible to use multiple languages even if you actually don't by flagging them in dialogue tags. This is good when who speaks what language(s) is important in the narrative. You can put the inter-language confusion in the dialogue and the speakers' actions. You can also use this to play with mis-translation, either deliberate or incidental. If you ...


2

It depends on the style guide you subscribe to. AP Style does not use italics. The Chicago Manual recommends use of italics for isolated words that are likely to be unfamiliar to the reader. If a word will become familiar over the course of the writing, it needs only be italicized the first time. Entire sentences are not italicized. MLA Style recommends ...


1

Treating sign as spoken language makes sense and is generally the right way to go. But remember, you're not actually quoting what someone signs. You're quoting the English translation of what someone signs. So you should treat ASL signers exactly like you would treat any other foreign language. ASL is a language in its own right, not derived from English, ...


1

Research, research, research. I can't state it enough. Research is the key and the backbone to writing a successful knowledge. If it's a language you can handle phrases of on your own after simply looking up the grammatical rules, go for it! If not, I suggest you find an expert. If it is a simple language (aka a well-known language) such as french, ...


1

Why do you need a differentiation in the first place? If the actors can communicate (one is deaf-mute, but can read lips, the other one can read signs) then I see no need for a special formatting style (or even other quotation marks which would be also an option). So go with Cliff's suggestion here. If they do not understand each other then you probably ...


1

In this case, I think the best approach would be to quote the spoken dialogue as regular dialogue and use the attributives to differentiate between signed and spoken content. I think it's fine to drop the attributives if it is clear who is the source and s/he has been established as a "signer" or "speaker." Italics should be reserved for foreign words ...



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