Sodyera (sodyera) wrote in linguaphiles,

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Seny'a Yabat av lanv'e

(Moving the Ball Forward)

Sometimes I just don't know what people want.
Stirring trouble upon my arrival, recent comments have expressed an objection to something referred to as "calling a rabbit a smeerp", where a local/foreign term is substituted for a common noun in the text of a story. I'd used the technique on occasion as a teaching tool in my novels principally to impart local colour. Hey, I'd seen it used liberally in several books I'd read and I rather liked it; I had no idea that it was considered a Bad Thing. I'm writing about a culture where there are no Earth people around to translate for, and I've tried to avoid breaking the narrative to define non-contextual specifics until there was a legitimate lull where the definition wouldn't hurt, and would usually help. Oh, and I've got to tell a story, too? Cheez, man!

Once I substituted a boring paragraph of geographical exposition with a filk song people actually liked. {filk=parody in the fannish realm; there are frequent gatherings, conventions and a whole LJ forum about it.} An earlier draught featured a glossary and there were some beta readers objected to it and others liked it. Years ago in the APA Linguiça I wrote some facing paragraphs about mundane crap in both English and Yal Dawo, just to prove that I could. {I'm told this would not work in a novel until I became a lot more famous.} I could write entire historical treatises to explain the niche(s) in time in which the stories took place but then they wouldn't really be novels, would they? They'd be an RPG base, and I'm not a gamer.

As a writer I am willing to please the public but I will not write stories about extraterrestrials named Bob and Sue (unless they were deliberately dumbing themselves down for the Earthers) when the whole point was to open a database of words and history that made my whole project interesting to me in the first place. When individual words made themselves obvious to me I started writing them down (instead of muttering them to myself under my breath). When the words broke down into their bases and origins, I got bunches of cultural trivia and historical markers. My notes metastasized into an English/Yal Dawo dictionary called the Felo Jaossiness (n., lit. "List of Words") but without any stories for it to explain to anyone, that will probably just sit on my hard drive, growing slowly by the year.

So as far as such things go, what do you like to see? What technique (or standard) works for you?
Tags: language origins, writing

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