Thursday, July 29, 2010

Days of Gab

I highly recommend blog friends visiting each other whenever possible. To have time to yack about writing in detail or anything else that comes to mind, to not be constrained by the brevity and insecurity of emails.
Had a truly wonderful visit from Writtenwyrdd last week, and am so grateful that she tolerated the dust and doghair and my semi-invalid status. The dogs thought she was wonderful too.
Since then I've been reading a low-brow genre series, the kind replete with meticulous descriptions of eighty-five types of hardware--not the kind on kitchen cabinets--detailed hardsite penetration, and gun battles so sizzling with testosterone that balls bounce off every page and I have to kick them away to get up from my chair.
Very relaxing. And sometimes useful.
Noticed a couple of interesting ways to illustrate and underline that a character's first language was not English without the usual application of native tongue exclamations and maledictions, such as "mon Dieu" or "perro" etc., or the ubiquitous " how you say in America..."
One secondary character used present tense all the time, even when obviously describing past incidents. From my own experience in languages foreign this rang true, as present tense is usually the easiest to get right.
Another, less common than a scatter of non-English words of endearment or curse, is the use of what in English we sometimes call malapropisms-- the use of a noun or verb closely related in sound but with a wildly inappropriate meaning-- the misue of "pneumatics" for "pneumonia" is a lame example.
Other "infelicities of verbal diction" such as the reversal of intitial letters or syllables are often used , mostly for comedic effect, for English speaking characters. One of my favourites , incidentally, is "The Canadian Broadcorping Castration." And I'm sure you are all familiar with Spoonerisms such as Cinderella and her two sistyuglers.
If pure comedy is your ambition, the possibilities are endless. A book suitable for the bathroom called Nothing Risque, Nothing Gained by Richard Lederer provides such springboard examples as "The Screwing of the Tern, French the Lieutenant's Woman, Even Blowgirls get the Cues, A Sale of Two Titties..."
All comedy aside, one way to individualize a character is to have them misuse the language--tips of the slung--as long as one doesn't get carried away with one's own cleverness and overdo it.


fairyhedgehog said...

There are some good tips there about how to show a non-English speaker.

I'm glad (but envious!) that you and writtenwyrdd had such a great time together.

Charles Gramlich said...

I just had to have a character do the "not speaking in English but needs to be understood thing." I kind of glossed over it, although I didn't quite stoop to a "universal translator."

Your testosterone books sound like Jerry Ahern's work. I love his stuff.

Gabriele C. said...

I've met some blog friends during my travels. It was always a lot of fun. Glad you had a good time as well.

laughingwolf said...

girl talk, no limits, had to be fun, with goodies to gobble/drink, too :)

dog approval is paramount to best friendships, as you know

and yeah, lederer is a gem!

Natasha Fondren said...

Should I tell you what I really thought when I opened this post?

There's no picture! There's no spaces between the paragraphs! *reads* This is longer than she normally writes. Bernita doesn't seem herself.

Are you feeling okay?

Lana Gramlich said...

I don't know if you've ever watched "Trailer Park Boys" (a fine, Canadian production...I suspect you haven't, btw.) There's a character on there named "Ricky" who does those kinds of things all the time (mainly because he never even got his Grade 10.) It's actually pretty funny. If you search YouTube for "Rickyisms," you'll find some examples.

writtenwyrdd said...

It was a blast! Thanks for having me to visit, Bernita! Your dogs are lovely and adorable (and large!) and the dust/mess wasn't really as bad as you think.

Hope to do it again some time. :)

Bernita said...

Fairy, you're another I wish didn't live so impossibly far away...

Actually, Charles, it's Don Pendleton's Mack Bolan series!
But under all the blood and guts are some times some interesting philosophies about duty and death.

Wish we within the same continental space, Gabriele...

Indeed. Dog approval is vital, LW!

Eh, Natasha...Truthfully, no. I'm not all that OK...(whine)
Sorry about the sloppy format. Sometimes I bugger blogger and sometimes blogger buggers me.

No, I haven't, Lana, but thank you for the tip!Sounds like some delicious mangling.

Hope you can, Written!
You're being kind about the dust/mess, but a house and property can't be more or less negelected for two years without suffering.

SzélsőFa said...

i laughed at "the dogs thought she was wonderful, too" :)))

anyway, a very useful piece of advice on writing (as per usual, btw)
i was thinking of making at least on character standing out of the rest by his/her different use of the language - like when you have an underschooled person, or someone from the countryside, or someone unintelligent (regardless of origin and/or education) in your story.
i've never thought of creating a foreign character, but will sure make use of your advice.

Bernita said...

SzelsoFa, am always so glad when anyone finds something useful from my posts.