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Discussion: Using Really Foreign Languages

Language Word Cloud

Today’s topic comes from QSFer Ruff Bear:

I just started a story in which a character is called l’bkh!’dar, which is close to “bright light” in Marathi, a language spoken in western India. The exclamation mark is used to mark a clicking sound common in southern African languages. How do people feel about hard to pronounce names for characters? How do people feel about using non-Latin writing systems and non-English languages (with or without translation)?

I’ve used Italian in a couple of my stories, but of course it’s still fairly similar to English – same basic character set, many similar words.

But what Bear is talking about is a different order of things altogether.

So my questions today – as an author, have you used a language radically different from your own in a story? How did you handle it? And as a reader, do other languages in a story, especially very different ones, add to the story’s flavor or put you off?

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