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Having trouble finding my writing language

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Raindrop

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That's an issue I've been struggling with for quite some time.

I'm French. I write in English.
My English is obviously not that great, but it's the language I think in when left to my own devices -- as such, it feels unnatural to write in French, as I would need to translate my thoughts before typing them.

Moreover, with a few exceptions, I prefer books written in English. English is more action-packed than French, which fits with the way I relate to the world.

I often wonder whether I should force myself to write in French, or leave it as is, and hope my English improve enough that I can fake writing it as a first language... I suspect that my ideal writing language would be a mix of both. That's so not an option! :D

Anyone else with a similar problem?
 

Ehab.Ahmed

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Yes, I think I am, too. I'm an Arab, and I write in English. Like you, I think in English most of the time and sometimes find it easier to write, describe, or even create sentences in English than in Arabic. But I've never thought about writing in Arabic. I don't know why, though.

I also hope I can fake enough English to be passed off as a native, lmao.

I'd suggest to write in whichever language suits you best.
 

OneWriter

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Hang in there! That's why I didn't write for ten years or so... I guess my brain was transitioning from Italian to English. Also, I didn't have much time to read, but then I started reading again, in English this time, and then a few years later the urge to write came back, in English this time. So, hang in there, it may be hard at the beginning, but keep writing and most importantly keep reading in English, if that's the language you want to write in.
 
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Your English is not that bad. :)

If you like writing in French, then you should practice it, but if you like writing in English, there's no reason to force yourself to write in French. After all, plenty of native English speakers have a terribly tough time writing in English, so I doubt folks would hold it against you if you were still practicing.
 

Raindrop

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Thanks :) Glad I'm not alone in this!
I guess I'll stick to English, and find myself a good beta reader. Or maybe it will depend on the story.
 

Bookewyrme

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Thanks :) Glad I'm not alone in this!
I guess I'll stick to English, and find myself a good beta reader. Or maybe it will depend on the story.

Your English is fine. It's even better than that of some native-speakers (seriously between the two posts in this thread I could only find one mistake, a missed letter, and I was looking because you said your English wasn't great). I think if you find yourself a writing-partner/critique-partner/beta-reader who is an editing-freak and/or strict grammarian then you'll be fine. Especially since the important part is to put the story down on paper. Language can always be cleaned up, the story is the important part. Good luck. ^_^
 

Caitlin Black

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I'm kind of the opposite - I can only speak English, but want to write in Italian! (I speak very little Italian.)

Personally, I think more people should learn a second language, and I also think there should be a market for multi-lingual books... like, a French/English book, where you utilise whichever language is most fitting from sentence to sentence, or even mixing the sentences up... Like, I know a couple of words in Italian that I think are absolutely brilliant, and I'd LOVE to be able to just throw them into the middle of an English sentence...

To me it's like cooking - you can have a purely potato dish, and that's fine, but throw a little butter and salt in and it's so much better. (Okay, that's an oversimplification, but I'm struggling to give a good example here...)

Perhaps: English is known for being a mix of beauty and directness in a fair amount of its use. Italian is known for being lyrical and descriptive. Put them together in a sentence, and you could be writing a very blunt statement in English that gives the reader no doubt as to what you mean, but then change one word to Italian and suddenly it's a little more subjective... to me it's like intonation - you can't really describe that in writing for every single word, or else you'd get bogged down, so using different languages could "trick" the reader into "hearing" the tone of voice without bluntly saying, "She said this whimsically with a little harsh emphasis on the word 'Turnip'." Or whatever.

Hopefully I'm making myself clear... but I'm PRO-multi-lingual writing, and PRO-people learning a second language and I think that there should be a market for this stuff, if only more people took an interest in alternate languages.

/ramble
 
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I'm kind of the opposite - I can only speak English, but want to write in Italian! (I speak very little Italian.)

Personally, I think more people should learn a second language, and I also think there should be a market for multi-lingual books... like, a French/English book, where you utilise whichever language is most fitting from sentence to sentence, or even mixing the sentences up... Like, I know a couple of words in Italian that I think are absolutely brilliant, and I'd LOVE to be able to just throw them into the middle of an English sentence...

To me it's like cooking - you can have a purely potato dish, and that's fine, but throw a little butter and salt in and it's so much better. (Okay, that's an oversimplification, but I'm struggling to give a good example here...)

Perhaps: English is known for being a mix of beauty and directness in a fair amount of its use. Italian is known for being lyrical and descriptive. Put them together in a sentence, and you could be writing a very blunt statement in English that gives the reader no doubt as to what you mean, but then change one word to Italian and suddenly it's a little more subjective... to me it's like intonation - you can't really describe that in writing for every single word, or else you'd get bogged down, so using different languages could "trick" the reader into "hearing" the tone of voice without bluntly saying, "She said this whimsically with a little harsh emphasis on the word 'Turnip'." Or whatever.

Hopefully I'm making myself clear... but I'm PRO-multi-lingual writing, and PRO-people learning a second language and I think that there should be a market for this stuff, if only more people took an interest in alternate languages.

/ramble


I'm definitely PRO-multi-lingual learning.

But what you describe in terms of writing isn't generally possible with two distinct languages. Even with two languages as closely related as Italian and English, the syntax and morphology would prohibit this sort of thing for the most part. Also, they sound very different. I'd be quite impressed if someone could seamlessly combine the two even for a few sentences.

And from a market standpoint, you'd have a damn small audience. :(
 
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Theresa

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Well, I'm bilingual and I write in both languages - German and English. I started writing in German as I'm currently living in Germany but I switched to English at the end of last year and it feels so much more comfortable. I simply love English and I think I can write much "nicer" in it, if you can guess what I mean ... English simply has more magic for me.

However, I'm still writing in German every now and then and I'm even thinking about writing a YA book in both languages (strictly chapter-separated).

So I guess I found my writing language. :)
 

Bookewyrme

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I'm definitely PRO-multi-lingual learning.

But what you describe in terms of writing isn't generally possible with two distinct languages. Even with two languages as closely related as Italian and English, the syntax and morphology would prohibit this sort of thing for the most part. Also, they sound very different. I'd be quite impressed if someone could seamlessly combine the two even for a few sentences.

And from a market standpoint, you'd have a damn small audience. :(

And then you get into languages like arabic or hebrew which read the opposite direction from european languages. So trying to combine left-to-right and right-to-left languages would be a REAL challenge as far as formatting goes. But I too wish that more people at least STUDIED more languages, nevermind being truly bilingual (a state I truly aspire to, but I'm not sure if it's possible anymore).
 

Maxinquaye

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I'm tri-lingual and bi-english. Ie I speak a bastard variant of english that's a mix of american and british. And I need to keep a close watch on things to not step wrong. :D

But I write in English, since it comes easier to me. I've lived for so long in England that even now, when I'm back in the Aould country, I think in the language.
 

maxmordon

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I mostly write in English, but I do think it depends on the story. When I want a story I feel universal, I go with English, when I think it's very Latin American-related I use Spanish. Also, I feel English more tidy and analytical while Spanish is more messier, poetic and whimsical.

Have you ever felt social or cultural pressure for not writing in your native languages? I know I have, saying I am a traitor to my heritage.
 

Raindrop

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And then you get into languages like arabic or hebrew which read the opposite direction from european languages. So trying to combine left-to-right and right-to-left languages would be a REAL challenge as far as formatting goes.
Oh but that would be so fun! :D
I love Wim Wenders' movies, as he mixes languages as he goes. It feels right. Subtitles help.
Hmm. It could be possible to have more than one language in a book, as long as you include footnotes.

I mostly write in English, but I do think it depends on the story. When I want a story I feel universal, I go with English, when I think it's very Latin American-related I use Spanish. Also, I feel English more tidy and analytical while Spanish is more messier, poetic and whimsical.
I hear you. The more I think about it, the more I believe the best language for a book depends on the story that wants to be told. I started a novel last year that I never finished. I claimed it was taking place in England, but the settings, the mood, the ethos of the people, reminded me of France. I should have written it in French.

Have you ever felt social or cultural pressure for not writing in your native languages? I know I have, saying I am a traitor to my heritage.
No. I live in Alsace. Our language is almost dead anyway.
 
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Ehab.Ahmed

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Have you ever felt social or cultural pressure for not writing in your native languages? I know I have, saying I am a traitor to my heritage.

Oh, yes. Now that brings back memories. I don't care about heritage (since I don't belong to any Arabic country because of the way I lived, I don't feel the patriotic pressure crap) and things like that. So, I don't put limits on how I produce what I want to create.

And then you get into languages like arabic or hebrew which read the opposite direction from european languages. So trying to combine left-to-right and right-to-left languages would be a REAL challenge as far as formatting goes. But I too wish that more people at least STUDIED more languages, nevermind being truly bilingual (a state I truly aspire to, but I'm not sure if it's possible anymore).
Yeah, I understand what you're saying. I speak Arabic as I said before, and translating back and forth would be a big hassle for me -- not that I want to write in Arabic to begin with. I am studying Japanese, though. I really like that language, and I do agree that people should learn more languages. English isn't the only language in the world ;)
 

Bookewyrme

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Oh but that would be so fun! :D
I love Wim Wenders' movies, as he mixes languages as he goes. It feels right. Subtitles help.

I actually really want to try this. I wouldn't do it for publication, because as was said earlier there really isn't a market for that sort of thing, but I think it would be a fun, amusing exercise. I'd try it with english and arabic as a challenge, but I think adding more languages could be even more interesting. An english, arabic, japanese, french mash-up?! How cool would that be? *Is a bit of a language nerd*
 

SaraP

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I find that for me, the way I follow my characters and let them lead me throughout the story, the same goes for the language. When the writing urge bit me, more or less a year ago, the first thing I wrote was a short, in portuguese. Then I wrote the first draft of a novel in english. I wrote it how it came out. I didn't worry about the language.

I know that english feels so much more natural to me when writing, and I think that hanging around AW and the chatroom help me associate writing with the english language, but I know that if a story comes to me in portuguese, then it will be written in portuguese.
 

Miss Plum

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Here is a reader's perspective. I was always amazed at Vladimir Nabokov's use of English. He wrote Lolita (and a few other stories) in the character of a non-native English writer -- someone who was more or less forcing himself to write in English even though he had grown up speaking and loving French and Russian. Although he sounded like the most literate English writer ever to set pen to paper, he indulged in some hyperliterary prose that a native might not get away with. I think he milked the other-ness of English for all it was worth to wondrous effect.
 

Fresie

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Raindrop, another thing to consider:

if, as you say, English books are more action-packed than the French (which they are), you might find it working to your advantage if you write in French. We have to admit that technically, the English-language literature is arguably the most advanced at the moment (ducks in :e2tomato:) so if you apply English technical skills (POV, plotting, story structure, market research, etc) to your French writing, you might find yourself far ahead of quite a few French writers.

It happens to me all the time when I write in Russian: many of my Russian colleagues are far more talented than I am, but as I apply my English writing skills in Russian, I come up with tighter, more "professional" stories that get published simply on the strength of the skill, if not talent :).
 
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