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Thread: Who isn't writing in their mother tongue?

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  1. #33
    figuring it all out
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    New York
    Quote Originally Posted by Siri Kirpal View Post
    Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

    Very interesting discussion here!

    Okay, I (mostly) only write in English, which is not only my first language, but the only one I know well. But I'd like to share some thoughts.

    If you're writing poetry, and you want rhymes, it helps to be writing in Italian, because the vowel endings make for easy and unforced rhymes. Because (most) Chinese characters can be pronounced umpteen different ways, depending on WHICH Chinese you speak, it's one of the worst languages for rhyming poetry. But because those characters mean things in their own right (like the woman under the roof for safety), Chinese is MUCH better than English for writing poetry with visual puns and similar layers of added depth. English is somewhere in between, but closer to Italian.

    Because English has so many words for the same thing, writing auditory puns in it is easy. A young man from Mexico mentioned that to me, commenting that it seemed like most of our jokes were puns. So I asked him what they joked about in Spanish. "Death" he said. So I asked how they did that, and he said by exaggerating everything. So, the language in which you write in part determines how you write jokes.

    And yes, words for certain things do appear in some languages and not in others, even if the language -- and the culture behind that language -- definitely has the concept. So, for instance, my husband and I were in NYC at the Met three years ago. There was an exhibition of Chinese scroll paintings. I was examining one of them (my favorite scroll painting of all time), when a young Chinese girl (maybe 9 or 11 years old) came up to me and said (clearly trying out her school English), "This my people made..." I could tell she wanted to tell me this scroll was part of her heritage. So I said, "So, it's your heritage." The girl freaked and ran for her father. After some thought, he told me he didn't know the word either. We eventually ran it through their tablet that translated from one language to the other. Heritage came up with a string of characters, which makes me think Chinese doesn't have a single word, although it certainly has the concept. And if any of you know differently, if there really is one character/word, I'd love to know about it.


    Siri Kirpal
    Google translates heritage or legacy to 遗产.
    Last edited by Irene Eng; 01-12-2019 at 06:48 AM.
    Thank you
    Irene Eng

    ~ truth is indeed stranger than fiction ~

    ~~ ~~

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