Writing in a different language

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Banya
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Writing in a different language

#1 Post by Banya » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:02 pm

Probably I'm not the only one but... is anyone experimenting with writing in another language?
When I first tried to make a VN I used my motherlanguage, Italian, but since Italian audience is literally non-existent I thought I'd better write in English if I wish to have a chance of being read. The problem is... while in Italian I have very good writing skills, in English I'm an amateur and under any mothertongue speaker.
I'd like to decorate my VN with long narrative sections, but in English I still have problems in writing fluid ones and I end up writing lots of dialogue insteade. I wanted to ask some suggestions to improve descriptions in my story (other than "talk with English people"), if you can help me ;__;
I think writing mostly dialogue would be bad for a story, even if I'm conscious that my first attempts of making a VN won't certainly be masterpieces. Atm I'm doing a lot of practice and I hope to show soon some of my work.
Is there anyone else facing the same problem, too?

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Re: Writing in a different language

#2 Post by NialGrenville » Fri Sep 09, 2016 4:40 pm

Yes! I've been rewriting one of my old novels into German, while I've studied tons of it. I'm still missing a lot.

The best thing I do is have my dictionary, read it every day, and buy a book on grammatical structure. When I first learned German, I was taught under the grammatical basis of a grade school child. As we are taught usually. Even in English you learn new things every grade!

I've spent hours cracking open my dictionary writing down words, and sometimes even tests. Then I'd do the same with grammatical rules.

As you get older or learn more (the former being if you were native to your native tongue) you will feel more comfortable with the language.

So just buy a book, learn all you can from elementary knowledge, and move up!
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Re: Writing in a different language

#3 Post by Zelan » Fri Sep 09, 2016 6:16 pm

If you think your writing will suffer from writing in English rather than Italian, consider hiring a translator. I don't know if there are any on this forum, but you may be able to find someone in real life or elsewhere online.

However, it should be noted that writing mostly in dialogue isn't necessarily a bad thing in visuals novels. Since they already have art to show some of the visuals, description isn't always as important as it would be in a book.

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Re: Writing in a different language

#4 Post by gas » Wed Sep 14, 2016 7:08 pm

Italian me, too.
Our language is really complex and full of shades that have no direct translation in english.
Our prose is sofisticated and we're also trained since childhood on a quite complex level of writing/communication (think of lacking direct subjects on tenses, and get it from context XD).
Translate this in english without an "english mind" it's doable, but you loose all subtle narrations that give a game some kind of success.

So to translate to a pro level, you need:
-Being bilingual
-Hire a translator

Please note that hiring a professional translator is REALLY costly! Even 0.12 euro at word!
So, maybe, you can invest some saving and recruit a young friend in career (insomma, dai un centone o due a uno studente universitario XD).

...another solution is to hire a fluent english spoker with a decent italian knowledge in your team, and leave him write the script from scratch, starting from your concepts. You can find some in this very forum.
I know it's a pain to leave our kids in stranger hands, but as you told, italian scene is barely existent.
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Re: Writing in a different language

#5 Post by truefaiterman » Wed Sep 14, 2016 9:00 pm

I tried to write a small project in English, being Spanish my mother language and... nope. Just. Nope.

For my current game, which is already hard to write in Spanish since it's in first person (and it's necesary for important plot points to be like that) and I'm more of a third-person writer, I'll wait to have a solid Spanish version, I'll TRY to translate a demo into English, and get money from somewhere to get a proper translator.

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Re: Writing in a different language

#6 Post by Banya » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:57 pm

Thank you for all the replies, guys ;__;

I think that hiring a translator is the best option, I'm considering it for a worthy game.
The one I'm currently working on is still unprofessional (since I'm at the first steps I'm stil experimenting - and I'm not sure my game will work, either) and I'm not convinced that spending money would be worth it.

The problem of the translators is that alomst nobody is an English native speaker who studied Italian, but most frequently the opposite (that's what I am too), so an English check would be enough too... atm I'm following NialGrenville's suggestion for the dictionary, I hope I'll improve a bit in the descriptions :)

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Re: Writing in a different language

#7 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:20 pm

I can't help but read through this thread as a native-born English speaker and take note of how GREAT everyone posting is writing in English, even though you've all stated it is a second language for you. I never would have known it IS a second language for you all unless it had been brought up.

I recently finished a game that was originally made in German, and translated by the game creator into English by herself. I didn't have any trouble or awkwardness when reading the story - just had a few German political jokes fly over my head.

Banya - if I were you, I'd write the game in English, then have a native-born English speaker check your script for any awkwardness.

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Re: Writing in a different language

#8 Post by Selidor » Mon Sep 26, 2016 3:47 pm

Speaking as a professional translator and proofreader, ideally you want both the translator and proofreader to be native speakers of the target language, but it's certainly possible for a good proofreader to work with a translation by a non-native speaker.

I'd never have the confidence to seriously try translating my work into Japanese (my second language). I know a lot about the language for work purposes, of course, but there's definitely a level of quality that comes from speaking at a native level rather than simply a fluent level, and I just can't achieve it.

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Re: Writing in a different language

#9 Post by juunishi master » Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:48 pm

Ah, I do understand Banya's point.

One of my side-project with my co-worker uses Indonesian and in our attempt to diversify the characters, we make them with different local accent (Batak, Sunda, Java). And then, after writing about 1/4 of the script, I realized something: "How the heck should I translate Batak accent??? Southern American English accent??? Afro-American??? But I don't even know how those accent sound!"

That local accent is one of the biggest part of the comedic situation in the whole story, that's why it's pretty important. :))

Anyway ...

I will take where will I put my VN in the market later as a consideration. If I think I'm going to release it worldwide, I'd write it in English (and ask help from translator+proofreader later), if I aim to local market only, I'd write it in Indonesian (and will translate later).

Also, I once read an article somewhere about people's personality tend to slightly change when they use different language. I don't know how valid is that, but I imagine myself speaking in other language (English, Japanese, Mandarin, and German) and I can somewhat feel my personality changes a bit too. So, I kinda believe it would affect the way the characters' speak and think too (also, the jokes). Maybe it can be a consideration too?

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Re: Writing in a different language

#10 Post by YonYonYon » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:35 am

For some mysterious reasons I write exclusively in English while being a native Russian speaker. At first, it was terrible, just terrible. But, like, five years later it became alright.

But now I feel awkward to write in Russian instead...
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Re: Writing in a different language

#11 Post by Zelan » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:52 pm

juunishi master wrote:Also, I once read an article somewhere about people's personality tend to slightly change when they use different language. I don't know how valid is that, but I imagine myself speaking in other language (English, Japanese, Mandarin, and German) and I can somewhat feel my personality changes a bit too. So, I kinda believe it would affect the way the characters' speak and think too (also, the jokes). Maybe it can be a consideration too?
This is very plausible to me. Language and culture are closely tied with one another, to the point where to understand one you often have to understand at least a little as well. Usually the culture is expressed with things like idioms in the languages, sayings that are frequently used, and even the grammatical structure of the language.

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Re: Writing in a different language

#12 Post by Mammon » Thu Nov 03, 2016 10:25 am

I'm Dutch but I recently released a VN in English. Even though I wrote it out in Word and read through it several times to hunt down any typo I could find, I still got the feedback that these were still present as I already expected. When you're not natively English, this is almost impossible to avoid because you won't even know some grammatical errors are errors in the first place. And that while English has a rather simple grammar system compared to most languages.

The best practical solution would probably be to have someone proofread it and write down every typo they found, or even to have them rewrite the story from broken English to proper English. As long as the issues don't lie with the story and pacing as well, any English speaker should be able to do this as long as there aren't any non-English words still left in the script and the sentences are understandable.


But are you sure there's no Italian community for VN's? I thought there was no demand for Dutch VN's either, until I found out a few days ago that there is site called VisualNovel.nl specifically for this. And if Italian VN fans are non-existent, then the Dutch fanbase goes negative because almost everyone here is bilingual. (We don't dub our tv shows unless they're for children who can't read subtitles yet.) In fact, never learn Dutch, learn German instead because everyone who doesn't speak English around here speaks German. So for Italians, whose population consists of more than 20% out of monoligual people(People who only speak one language), there's actually bound to be a larger community than you think. (You might want to check out the VN 'Elisa' on Steam, I believe their producers are Italian, maybe they can help you further.)

juunishi master wrote:One of my side-project with my co-worker uses Indonesian and in our attempt to diversify the characters, we make them with different local accent (Batak, Sunda, Java). And then, after writing about 1/4 of the script, I realized something: "How the heck should I translate Batak accent??? Southern American English accent??? Afro-American??? But I don't even know how those accent sound!"
I'm pretty sure this won't work to a satisfying degree and it won't help adding the slang of an accent, but have you tried writing the script in Word and changing the selected variant of English per accent? I myself have been writing my script in UK English and as a result some words are in British, like 'colour' instead of 'color'.
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Re: Writing in a different language

#13 Post by juunishi master » Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:59 am

Mammon wrote:
juunishi master wrote:One of my side-project with my co-worker uses Indonesian and in our attempt to diversify the characters, we make them with different local accent (Batak, Sunda, Java). And then, after writing about 1/4 of the script, I realized something: "How the heck should I translate Batak accent??? Southern American English accent??? Afro-American??? But I don't even know how those accent sound!"
I'm pretty sure this won't work to a satisfying degree and it won't help adding the slang of an accent, but have you tried writing the script in Word and changing the selected variant of English per accent? I myself have been writing my script in UK English and as a result some words are in British, like 'colour' instead of 'color'.
Ah, I never thought of that before. I should try it.

Thanks for the suggestion. :D

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Re: Writing in a different language

#14 Post by Carradee » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:06 am

Native English speaker. I sometimes translate some of my shorter work into Spanish, but those are more flash fiction, not games.

I'm not entirely fluent in Spanish, but I'm fluent enough to usually get the gist of writing I encounter that's in (Latin American) Spanish, (Brazilian) Portuguese, or Italian.

Writing mostly dialogue is a style of story that can have a limited audience, in English, but it can sometimes be found in "experimental"/flash fiction/literary circles. It can also can be well suited to visual novels.

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Re: Writing in a different language

#15 Post by mard » Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:17 am

Mammon wrote:
I'm pretty sure this won't work to a satisfying degree and it won't help adding the slang of an accent, but have you tried writing the script in Word and changing the selected variant of English per accent? I myself have been writing my script in UK English and as a result some words are in British, like 'colour' instead of 'color'.
I'm American and I use British spellings, simply because they are more natural way of spelling the words.
Tend to be a bit quiet, but will help where I can.

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