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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?)
noracharles: (Default)
Some background ) People discuss the problem of Russophobia and general former Eastern Bloc phobia, and how they have personally been exposed to this ignorance, Othering, contempt and aggression.

Then a person whom I generally like and respect, and who has already apologized, quoted this: "Sometimes it seems that all those debates about cultural appropriation only take into account skincolor differences," and answered: "Well, you have to take into account that skin is such a visible marker; my Russian and Ukrainian friends can often benefit from white privilege right up until they open their mouths or sign their names."

I was repulsed and horrified. I am not out to attack the person who said it, I'm sure it was not a deliberate offense, and she's already apologized, but her comment has inspired me to discuss this.

A disclaimer )

When you are in a discussion about tensions between cultures and prejudices against certain nationalities, and how Westerners (hint: especially Canadians and U.S. Americans) are generally ignorant, dismissive and fearful of people from certain countries, don't reframe the discussion to be about your own nation and culture, erasing and dismissing the actual people from actual different countries than your own whom you are currently talking to.

I mean, don't ever do that, but especially don't ever do that in those particular circumstances. It makes you look like a dumbass. An incredibly culturally arrogant, nationalistically solipsistic dumbass.

International fandom, and the start of a personal anecdote )

He was sorry to have offended me, and tried to make nice by telling me how flattered and pleased he was that foreigners like me were interested in and fannish about his culture's TV show. Oh hell no. OH HELL NO!

You do not get to declare moral ownership of a product/artistic expression based on sharing the nationality of its creator )

ETA: Marina, on russophobia
noracharles: (Default)
FYI: Demanding that a non-native speaker of English either stop posting or accept an anglophone gatekeeper is the moral equivalent of calling out an author for peppering their fic with babelfished non-English phrases as exotic decoration with no respect or regard for the speakers of that language.

I posted about this phenomenon in international fandom represent, but the situation in this discussion on fanficrants is slightly different. Here the commenters are very sensibly complaining only about hard-to-read-because-of-poor-grammar fics in general, you understand. The undercurrent of seething xenophobia and the racist jokes are completely incidental.

Pros of reading the discussion: see Nora flip her shit.
Cons of reading the discussion: may cause elevated blood-pressure.
noracharles: (Default)
When I first started out in online fandom, it was a bad idea to admit to not having English as your first language. People would ignore your fic, assuming it to be poorly written, or they would interpret what you wrote in very strange ways, thinking you couldn't mean to say what you actually wrote, since you wouldn't understand what it meant.

After some years fandom had become international enough that a lot of people who had been passing as first language English speakers came out, some subtly by using their .de or .se email addys and website URLs, some boldly stating their first language.

But that's only English language fandom. [personal profile] rodo has posted this interesting poll about different language fandoms, and the language background of fans. Please take part, no essay questions, simple check boxes/radio buttons.

I've been passive in non-English language fandoms, such as Danish, French, German, and Japanese movies and TV shows, followed canon for English language media translated or dubbed, and even read fic and meta in Danish (Norwegian, Swedish), German (Dutch, Afrikaans) and Spanish (French, Portuguese, Italian, Latin).

I could imagine writing fic in Danish for a specifically Danish fandom, but most of the stuff I've felt fannish about has been aimed very squarely at kids, and I would feel weird and out of place writing adult fic in for example Freddy og monstrene. Some has been aimed at adults, and has an international presence, such as Riget and Little Soldier, and while I could write in those fandoms in Danish, that would needlessly restrict my already very small audience.

As for Swedish language fandoms like Alla vi barn i Bullerbyn and Mumintrollen which I've read exclusively in Danish translation, I could write fic in Danish, and other Scandinavians could probably struggle their way through it, but honestly I think English is more likely to be understood and appreciated.

I can't imagine writing a fic in German or Spanish. The few German fandoms I'm into have an international presence, and I'm not into any Spanish language fandoms.

Okay, now I've gotten all interested in Lindgren fic - the fantasy worlds she's created in Mio, min Mio, Bröderna Lejonhjärta and Ronja Rövardotter lend themselves excellently to fic, and don't have the drawbacks of unfamiliarity with the setting like Bullerbyn, Emil, Madicken and Kalle Blomkvist would have for non-Swedes (and young Swedes, maybe).


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Nora Charles

November 2016

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