Tuesday, May 18, 2010

¿Tengo que traducir?

Current Project: Secrets of a Mayan Moon
Status: 18,000 words

I found a great site on line that allows me to type in a sentence in English and it gives me the sentence in Spanish. I love it! And because I did have two years of Spanish in high school, I can tell if it is translating right or not. This is the site.http://translation2.paralink.com/ It has many languages that can be converted.

My current WIP is set in Guatemala a predominately Spanish speaking country, though it also has a high percentage of Mayan languages as well. And I found a dictionary for that, too. ;) With the main characters traveling through the jungle and encountering locals, they have to converse at times in Spanish. I've tried to keep the dialog short and give clues to what they are saying without actually translating the sentences in English. This has been as big a challenge as writing a story in another country and trying to find all the information I need. But I have enjoyed the challenges as they crop up.

How do you feel about interjecting other languages in books as a reader? And as a writer have you done this and how did you handle it?


Kendra said...

How difficult! I've seen this handled different ways. Sometimes with the dialog in English but the tag says 'Lisa asked in Spanish.' Or stated in the foreign language and the reader has to figure it out by the reply or the character's thoughts. Minimal use of a foreign language seems best otherwise the reader has to try too hard. I thought Elisabeth handled it well in STOLEN FURY.

When you are finished, I would seek out a person who actually speaks the language from the area where the story is set to proofread. (This is where you put out a plea on loops and facebook, lol.) There's simply too many dialects and locational uses of words. Good luck!

M Pax said...

Excellent link.

Well, I've told you I wrote part of a few chapters in an alien language. Actually, it's based on Sumerian from ancient Mesopotamia with some made up bits from moi, so I don't have to worry about the accurate translation thing. I had to write down my rules so that I remain consistent.

Since the crew is meeting the aliens and trying to understand each other, I don't think the reader not completely following the alien words is necessary. I wanted to give a feeling of what it might be like. There's a lot of gesturing and I keep it simple. So, it is possible to figure out what the aliens are saying. Sometimes the crew translates. Depends whether I wanted that sentence clear or not.

Paty Jager said...

Kendra, Thank you for commenting. I plan to send it to my niece who is living in Spain teaching English, but who was an exchange student in Ecuador to read the Spanish parts before I send it to anyone other than CP's. But I also found a site that tells you which Latin country certain words are used in.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Mary,

I have to laugh. You're right. Only aliens would be able to understand your dialogue. LOL. Which in a way makes it easier for you to slip in any word you want.

Genene Valleau said...

As a reader, I agree with Kendra: "Minimal use of a foreign language seems best..."

Perhaps start out with a greeting or a phrase in Spanish that most people would know the meaning of and then switch to English.

This can be a tricky balance! Glad you're enjoying the process!

Alice Sharpe said...

I've done this, too, although I usually give myself the safety net (for many reasons, the least of which is languages) of a fictional country. A box of the book that is coming out next month arrived at my house a week ago so after I read your blog, I looked across the room at the dh and asked how I handled the language issue was in that book. I am happy to say he seemed too engrossed to do more than say, "It's fine," and go back to reading. So, wow, what a testimonial.

Like you, I keep the language sections few and far between and work references as to what was said into narrative and dialogue. No one wants to wade through a lot of words they don't understand. One caveat: I run my Spanish by my ex daughter in law who was born and raised in Guadalajara and she usually laughs at the computer translations I've found on the internet as they are machine generated (unless you use a site that sends your request to an actual person who responds to you at a later time. She says most of what I've found doesn't make sense in that no one would actually speak that way. With so many people fluent in this language, I'm just cautious, so perhaps Kendra is right and you could find someone who speaks the language to do a final read through of the appropriate passages.

Once again, your enthusiasm for your project is wonderful!

Paty Jager said...

Genene, That seems to be the consensus. And I'm trying to keep it minimal.

Thanks, Alice!