whynot: SPN: surprise!Indonesia (all in the family)
Lassiter ([personal profile] whynot) wrote2014-12-05 01:08 am

lol dat game............

Meanwhile, in Marchand/Pastrnak news:

ping pong all night long oh yea is that what the kids are calling it these days. Don't worry, Brad's gonna give it to him a lot more frequently now amirite ladiez

On another note, sports fandom has gotten me thinking again about how to write stories where the characters have language barriers. What's the best way to do that? In SPN fandom, I dealt with it a few times by racebending characters into Indonesians, specifically Sundanese Indonesians because that's the cadence I'm most familiar with. (BANDUNG REPRESENT.) But like, take baseball - I don't know Japanese or Spanish. Hockey, I don't know Russian or any of the northern and eastern European languages. I don't really know how to do the broken English in fic and be confident that I can pull it off.

I was thinking, then, maybe write a fic from say David Pastrnak's POV and narrate his thoughts and try to cheat around dialogue. English is not my first language either, but it's become the language I'm most comfortable in, whereas my grasp of Indonesian kinda stalled at around the age I was when my family emigrated. I know there's an English-language novel out there about a POC family in which when they're speaking in their native language, the dialogue is still written in English with us understanding it's not, but when other people are speaking in English, their dialogue is italicized, and maybe not in quotations, or something? There has to be a way I can do this without learning Japanese/Spanish/Czech/Finnish/Russian/Swedish.

I'm fascinated by the intersections though. I have this scene I want to work into baseball fic at some point where Christian Vazquez is, like, idk, eating a sandwich while Xander Bogaerts is nattering away on the phone next to him. Vazquez and Bogaerts, BFFs extraordinaire, usually talk to each other in Spanish, but Bogaerts is on the phone with his brother and they're talking in Papiamento. Vazquez doesn't know Papiamento, but he recognizes some words simply because he's been hanging around Bogaerts for so long. Stuff like that. But I'd be writing all this in English 'cos that's the language I know, so how do I balance that!

Like check out Ichiro Suzuki and Munenori Kawasaki, who have picked up the obscene variety of Spanish from their teammates. Another thing I want is a scene where Koji Uehara, David Ortiz, and Mike Napoli are hanging out shit-faced enough that Koji speaks Japanese more often than not, and Ortiz speaks Spanish more often than not, and Nap's just blabbering along in English, and they all get along merrily and understand each other just enough in this grand adventure. basball frans
fearsome_turtle: (Default)

[personal profile] fearsome_turtle 2014-12-05 06:50 pm (UTC)(link)
On the broken English... I mean, I don't think I do a particularly good job of recreating how people talk? But I listen to interviews to get a feel for someone's favorite phrases and most common constructions, and then I err on the side of more correct than not. I've seen italics used, but it distracts me a bit, so I avoid it.

I mostly like to make it part of the speech tag. "'Peanuts!!!' Dima shouted in Russian." Another Russian speaker would know what he was saying, and then you can have the conversation continue without further reminder until they switch languages.

Or, if it's from the POV of someone who doesn't know Russian, I'll leave the Russian out of the dialogue. "Dima mumbled something in Russian. 'Say again?' Tom asked." Or, if the person only knows a few words/phrases: "Dima mumbled Russian into his phone. Something about hats? It sounded like he was talking to his mom, anyway." If it's really simple stuff, I'll use websites and write the Russian phrases. But I don't know the language and don't really trust the Internet, so I don't do that much.

I'm writing something right now with multiple Russian speakers, and I'm writing dialogue in English and assuming that everyone will understand that the Russians are speaking Russian with each other unless stated otherwise.
fearsome_turtle: (Default)

[personal profile] fearsome_turtle 2014-12-06 05:31 pm (UTC)(link)
My style is so dialogue dependent that I can't really write conversations in other ways. I'll occasionally say that someone said something without writing the line, but I always write a lot of dialogue!

Edited 2014-12-06 17:31 (UTC)
snickfic: (Xander latin)

[personal profile] snickfic 2014-12-05 11:40 pm (UTC)(link)
The broken English I've written for hockey has been based pretty much entirely on watching a lot of interviews of the players in question. Malkin has some particular tics that he uses, whereas Ovechkin is more fluent but also has some phrases that he likes, etc.

I haven't done a lot with people hearing languages they don't know, though. Once when I did, I just described what the POV character was hearing - they couldn't understand it, so it wouldn't have been fair for the reader to (unless we're going for dramatic irony of course). I realize that's a fairly basic solution, though, which I am sure you've used in the past!
snickfic: (Default)

[personal profile] snickfic 2014-12-06 06:07 am (UTC)(link)
In general, yeah, I agree that it's like cheating to tell the audience what the POV can't understand. I like the way missmollyetc has Geno not understanding English in one of her fics:

"Everybody knows!" Sid yelled, stepping up and into Geno's space. He grabbed Geno's shirt and shook him. "Everybody fucking--fuck, how long before...talk and...press...fucking...Deadspin or—"

"Too fast," Geno said, smacking at Sid's arm. "You go too fast again."

It occurs to me that also if the characters don't even notice how they're switching between languages, it's going to have to be someone else that notices - a monolingual POV character, or just someone telling them to stick to one language at a time. Something like that. Make the reader realize at the same time the character does, you know?
snickfic: (Xander latin)

[personal profile] snickfic 2014-12-07 06:16 pm (UTC)(link)
I had the same problem as your friend when I was trying to learn German. When I tried to speak, I would end up filling in the gaps with Spanish. You can imagine how that went. :D

(Factoid from psychology: we store second-language vocabulary in a different part of our brains than first-language vocabulary. So it sort of makes sense to me that the vocab from the different second languages would get mixed up.)