noracharles: (Default)
[personal profile] noracharles
I wouldn't write a fic about an English language canon in Danish. I used to read a lot of books in translation before it was possible to buy books online, and the stilted Danish of the translations never gave me the same intimate feeling as reading a book in its original language can.

I think the biggest advantage for me to writing in Danish would be the registers I have in that language. I speak English in very specific circumstances: At home I speak about family stuff with my family, but we code switch and mix and match a lot, and our private language would be difficult to understand for others as well as completely out of character for any canon character I can think of.

And then I write more or less formal academic English for school, and a weird mixture of more or less formal academic English and fandom dialect on LJ/DW, and again, I don't think that suits any of the canon characters I would like to write about. I do work hard not to write fic in fandom dialect, because it grates on me when I read it, but it's the only English casual dialect I'm fluent in :-|

I once made up a long story in my head about characters from a Danish movie, but I didn't bother writing it down. I couldn't imagine who would read it. The movie was Lille Soldat, a fantastic movie which I highly recommend.

It was not the point of the movie, but one of the things I particularly appreciated was the code switching: the main characters are Kimmie from Nigeria, who only speaks very little Danish and does not like to talk about emotional or important things in Danish, and Lotte who has English as a foreign language/working language. She's used to using English for important subjects that you have to get right, being an Iraq vet, and also has a broad knowledge of colloquial English from popular culture, but her English is stilted and dry compared to the emotional complexity she can express in Danish.

And as I was making up the story about those characters, it felt so good to be able to use that entire range that combining English and Danish gives me, and the control over nuance that code switching gives me, and the power to use dialog for characterization, which I normally suck at.

But then I remembered bringing friends to my parents' house, and the look they get on their face when we suddenly switch to English, and the way they also switch to English and it sounds so weird and kind of grating to me. They don't sound like themselves at all, because they're suddenly using a much more formal register and they have less nuance and humor in what they're saying.

And I thought to myself, no one could read that fic. No one in fandom understands my native language. (Except possibly [personal profile] aquaeri?)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-04 08:40 pm (UTC)
verasteine: Steve (Arthur looking down)
From: [personal profile] verasteine
I get this completely. Not having English as your first language can make fandom a whole different world, but in turn, I learned my writing in English, and so writing in my native Dutch never expresses wholly what I want to say (unless the characters are Dutch.) English is like this writing language to me, this other option in my head. I can't really write well in Dutch at all, at least not fiction. It wouldn't flow.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-04 10:05 pm (UTC)
verasteine: Steve (Default)
From: [personal profile] verasteine
I'm not fond of reading Dutch; I'm also not fond of what passes for good literature here. I had to read lots of it in high school, and mostly despised it. I prefer reading in English because those stories are different.

And hang on, you read Dutch? How did you wind up knowing Dutch, Danish, and English?

I think it's awesome you wanna be published; I don't have that courage (yet). And you know, you can always try. You never know what might happen!

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-05 08:53 am (UTC)
verasteine: Steve (Default)
From: [personal profile] verasteine
I have to ask, how do you read Dutch without understanding it? I suppose it's sort of like how I read French; I understand one word in a hundred :). I had no idea Dutch was so interesting... They tell me it's a hard language to learn, but if you know Danish, it might not be so difficult!

I wholly encourage you to write and send in fiction! I think it'd be awesome.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-04 08:52 pm (UTC)
lakrids404: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lakrids404
Hey still here!
:)

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-04 09:53 pm (UTC)
lakrids404: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lakrids404
I reread your post, and I can see that I clearly misread what you said, so much for my English reading skill. You are talking about your experience as a "tosproget",and yes I would probably miss subtle nuances in spoken Eglish.

But I am not so sure, that I could not grasp as much context, as an average native English speaker, as I have probably read more books in English, than the average English person have (yes I am aware of the irony, when I started my post with saying I misread your post). I could of course miss some cultural context, that a native speaker would see. But that could also happen, to native English speakers from different countries. I don't know if it's a good example, but I remember reading some fanish discussions of BBC's Merlin, where one person had found it interesting, that the american viewers didn't talk about, the different social classes, and how they influenced the charterers action.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-04 10:41 pm (UTC)
lakrids404: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lakrids404
I do get what you are saying....I think.

And I wonder, if you see the same, as when i look at the color green.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-05 12:33 am (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: in red serge Benton looks askance (Default)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
I find this very interesting. Disclosure:I'm basically English monolingual, but my English is a melange of different kinds, American, BBC, high and low brow, and littered with pilfered vocabulary. The normal prescription for writing is to read a lot, and that this builds a buffer to push your writing through. However. English has a Huge body to select from, deep and wide. I don't know how one improves writing in a language with (from your description) few suitable models. I suppose you might try 'exercises' where you set a desired effect and try different approaches.

Perhaps trying to write the Danish you use when the audience doesn't know English?

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-05 02:56 pm (UTC)
peoriapeoriawhereart: in red serge Benton looks askance (Default)
From: [personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart
Well, you've seen how my English has peculiarities despite being in an English-speaking environment. But I do have a sense of where Ray would balk at Saying even though he Understands. It might not be quite right, since I'm from lower in the state, and the white ethnics of my childhood were different.

But, writers do write dialog, so you read a lot of the ones that Get it Well. And, there is American-pickers. ;) I will admit I read mostly out of time-period. Science-fiction is good that way, so that if characters have self-consistent Voice, whether it's pitch-perfect Jersey-shore is immaterial. (I use this to retcon Scotty's brogue. Since there are more opinions than there are Scotsmen, why shouldn't there be accents changing over time?)

As to writing in Danish, well, until someone writes It, no one can read a better example. Once upon a time, English was much rougher. Then Shakespeare and his contemporaries infused it and History did patently ridiculous things. Though,I really should locate some good examples of World English literature. There are plenty of native speakers of Englishes way different from my own.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-05 04:35 am (UTC)
aquaeri: My nose is being washed by my cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] aquaeri
I'd certainly be willing to try reading Danglish! I think my Danish is a little weak, childish, because I haven't consumed much Danish media since I was 12. And I think I've even noticed that awkwardness you're describing, because when I do read Danish, I like to go back to older stuff, 1970 or older - I think it's thereabouts that English really starts to affect Danish. Some of the modern stuff is really badly written, and people are using English words when even I can remember the Danish word!

But I think you'd have more talk about with my mother - I can remember, after we'd lived in Australia some years and even her and my dad's Danish had English in it (possibly after my brother and sister had given up speaking Danish altogether, they are younger than I am) - we saw some Shakespeare on TV, and it was like a lightbulb went off over her head. She'd studied Shakespeare in Danish translation at school, had been unimpressed, but she was now so comfortable in English she was 'getting it' in a way that hadn't been possible for her before.

I will say some English translations of Danish stuff are really poor too - when Frøken Smilla was big, even I read the English because that's what we could get hold of in Australia, and I so wanted to read the Danish instead because I could tell certain awkwardnesses would have been fine in Danish and so I was left wondering what else I might be missing.

In fact the only thing that ever satisfied me was Out of Africa/Afrikanske Farm, because Blixen wrote both versions herself. There was a way both versions were the same I've never experienced with anything else.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-03-09 05:34 am (UTC)
aquaeri: My nose is being washed by my cat (Default)
From: [personal profile] aquaeri
I'm mainly nodding and agreeing. The translation thing, I think it depends a bit on what it is that's being translated. Poetry in my experience (or poetry that I consider good...) you have to read in the original, it is just completely untranslatable. I managed to study enough Latin at school our teacher had us read a bit of original poetry and then compare/contrast translations (in English) and the translations mainly made me more impressed with the original. Other texts can have different purposes that make them more translatable, depending on what they're doing. But I notice even with appliance instructions that are multilingual - sometimes there's different cultural context between the English and Danish (or particularly Swedish) instructions!

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Nora Charles

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