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Thread: Some question on "written english"

  1. #1
      jamsus is offline
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    Default Some question on "written english"

    Hi all, :-)

    i follow this community since a long time but didnt posted too much (i also lost old account)

    i think this is one of the most passionate and helpful community iv ever seen, and the title "A forum for cartography enthusiasts" simply recall the spirit of "posters"

    I got a question (off-topic question from cartography)

    My mother language is Italian, but with the school, the music, the internet and many fantasy books i can consider english as my second language
    i got some "grammar" problem but i think is normal :-)

    I am a fan of fantasy (like many others in here i suppose) and i wrote short stories to use for role play or for the simple desire to write.
    But i realized that English is really better to write a good fantasy... the words, the terms, are really more meaningful, and more onomatopoeic

    then a crazy idea

    If i try to write something in English?

    and i did it,

    so i wanted to ask an opinion to you (except for "little" grammar mistakes, consider that i use Synonims dictionary, Google translator for doubts) on a small part of the story,

    if the "setting" is right, the terms are correct, and if the general idea can be okay!

    I will thank you very much if you give your opinion

    This is the part :

    The Hills of Brenderytuc

    It was a cold winter's day, covered by a grey sky and scared with sharp gusts of wind when Gador found the entrance of the old tumulus.
    Hidden behind a pile of mossy rocks was concealed a black crevice, just close enough to allow the passage of only one person at time.
    Gador waited a second and looked around at the sorrounding creepy forest. It was quiet, and scary. More than the fear of being followed was
    the gloomy feeling that the spirits of the dead that dwelt in the woods were watching him. But the only observers were two curious squirrels
    with the spotted fur, watching him from a rough and dry branch of an old oakthorn.
    Gador tried to hide the entrance as best he could taking some boughs from nearby bushes and went over. He knew that people avoided
    that dusky place, and the worth was all of the reputation of Brenderytuc. Gador had heard of stories that could keep away marching's armies.
    But he also knew that brigands were much more enslaved of stealth than of superstition, and that place was so dark and outlayed that a bit of
    caution could certainly be a good deal.
    Gador went ahead with a small candlelight. The passage was narrow and the way before him felt down steeply into the depths of darkness.
    He felt almost suffocated by the impending terrain above his head, and his back was crossed by a slight shudder. "This place is creepier than the
    last time," he thought.
    Some tangled roots of bushes grown over the mound caress his face like cold, ghostly fingers. Whenever he made a visit to the old tomb,
    Gador solemny promise to himself that he would never come back. But the taste of shining gold for a smuggler was stronger than any kind of
    oath, even though it was pronounced in front of deities, and the two bags of fine salt on his back and the dozen of cruets filled by valuables
    exotic oils tucked in his leather belt actually worth much more than a solemn promise.


    (thank you very much)

  2. #2
      jtougas is offline
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    That is really good. I love the structure and some of your phrases are very evocative

    Even if I am correct, I would still advise you to follow your heart. This whole Cartographers Guild thing, it seems to me, is more about passion and skill and learning new techniques than it is about definitions and rules.
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    There are quite a few grammar issues in what you've written, but they generally aren't severe enough to cause confusion for the reader. I'm impressed you've undertaken such a difficult task, and you have a fine vocabulary from what I've read so far!

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      Diamond is offline
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    I think learning a second language is hard enough in itself; to try to then write a story in it is awesome. So kudos to you!

    As for the bit you posted, I'd say you're a pretty good writer; like Jack says, there's a bunch of grammar issues, but that's what a good editor is for.
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      Savannah is offline
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    I like it a lot! Yeah, you have some minor language issues, but your story is very interesting and your descriptions are very good. I'd say that all you need is a native speaker to proofread for you and you'd be set.

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      jamsus is offline
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    thank you all very much,

    i really appreciated to receive criticism and also good comments, this will give me more enthusiasm and energy to continue with this crazy idea!
    you really do not have an idea about how "much" your comments here are meant for me :-)

    About the "grammar" mistake, im thinking to buy a good dictionary and stop using only the damned Google Translator :-D, im also
    planning to study a bit better the grammar structure on George RR Martin saga, that inspired me to try this hard way of writing

    i also think that i'll use Martin's novels to see how dialogue are written (as always for the "structure"), which is another very delicate part in a good fantasy book!

    when some "dialogue" part are ready i will post them here :-)

    Many thanks again,

    Andrea

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    Guild Artisan Greason Wolfe's Avatar
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    The dictionary thing is a good idea. Google Translator (and others for that matter) often have a hard time with compensating for future, present and/or past tense. And, more often than not, if a word is significantly close to another, it might call up the wrong translation, i.e. "cabin" (as in, "he went to his log cabin") in English is often translated into the equivalent of "cockpit" in French rather than being translated into the equivalent of cottage.

    Other than that, I agree with the others, the prose invokes some good imagery and a certain level of emotional response. I will also whole-heartedly agree with the idea that trying to write in something other than your native language is quite a challenge. Best of luck!

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      jamsus is offline
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    Yes indeed GT have many difficults to translate common terms, i think because people "suggested" different translation :-)

    You are right, is really a challenge, but forced me to pay more and more attenction when i write, and at the end, the time spent correcting italian\eng text is very close.

    with Italian Lang, i write as i speak (not the same ok, but some expressions do not sparkle of magic meanings :-p )

    Thank you :-)
    Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.

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      jbgibson is offline
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    Grammar and vocabulary are going to be two different issues. The words you choose are the building blocks, and you do well at that. Grammar would be the way the bricks fit together, from the level of stonelaying technique up to that of architecture. I know nothing of the relative "usefulness" of Italian and English for certain types of storytelling. I can see how our mongrel combination of bits and pieces from elsewhere has generated layers of richness. The flip side is that its mixed parentage makes English grammar and usage a messy affair. That sentence contained an example - an 'affair' being either 'a certain matter or activity', or it could mean 'an improper or illicit extramarital pairing'. I'll grant that's richness, but it's also tricky. If you can grasp and create puns and double-entendres in another language, I imagine you have a pretty good command of it :-).

    Most dictionaries are going to be of limited help with the structure and flow you need to create.

    I'm curious - with what you've shared here, did you think it out and even write it out in Italian, then translate it and flesh it out in English? Or did you compose it from the start in English? There's probably value to both ways. Have you pondered whether your feeling that English is richer for this purpose could just stem from your native tongue being "usual and mundane" versus English being to you exotic? To me Italian is quite exotic, thanks to it being wholly incomprehensible, yet musical in sound.

    That your command of the language is subtly "off" could maybe be made to work to your advantage. I think of speaker David Ring -- he has Cerebral Palsy and is extraordinarily difficult to understand. His speech is halting and slurred. Yet he is a compelling speaker - one hangs on his every word first because one HAS to, to decode his meaning, but then one is drawn in by what he has to say and how he says it. If it is somehow a part of your story, that the narrator perhaps is operating outside of his own mother tongue, a reader might accept a level of unusual expression, even be drawn in by it. I imagine the critical point there is that your storytelling, the ideas beneath the words, would have to be absolutely gripping. As another consideration, do not shy away from English translations of Italian expressions - those are going to be interesting to English readers just because they're not cliches to our ears.

    If you are going to write no matter what, AND you wish to gain skill in using the English language to do so, I imagine just going ahead and writing in English has to be a grand way to learn! If you accept that your first efforts will not chase Tolkien from the bookshelf, yet you have stories to tell that *must* somehow be expressed in English, then Go For It.

    It is a maxim worth mulling over, that before one can learn to creatively 'misuse' a skill, one must first master the proper use. I don't buy that 100%, but there's a core of truth there. I take all manner of liberties with English, and I fancy that my meaning is enhanced by the manner in which I write. But having read however many thousand books, hundreds and hundreds of authors, when I type something nonstandard, I'm shooting for a specific effect.

    Don't take anything I say as discouragement. There's incredible potential, huge possibility of unique value, in someone carrying out a passion outside his usual domain. A trumpeter is going to have an interesting take on playing the guitar. A weaver could perhaps devise a bridge to astound engineers. So you go right ahead and write !

  10. #10
      jamsus is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    Grammar and vocabulary are going to be two different issues. The words you choose are the building blocks, and you do well at that. Grammar would be the way the bricks fit together, from the level of stonelaying technique up to that of architecture. I know nothing of the relative "usefulness" of Italian and English for certain types of storytelling. I can see how our mongrel combination of bits and pieces from elsewhere has generated layers of richness. The flip side is that its mixed parentage makes English grammar and usage a messy affair. That sentence contained an example - an 'affair' being either 'a certain matter or activity', or it could mean 'an improper or illicit extramarital pairing'. I'll grant that's richness, but it's also tricky. If you can grasp and create puns and double-entendres in another language, I imagine you have a pretty good command of it :-).
    First, thank you for the time you spent to reply. :-) , is really appreciated.

    Second, to be honest Italian stay at the opposite of "usefulness", also if we speak just about "complexity", Italian is an enormous source of "writing" styles, all what you want, you can get from Italian structure. Many and many terms, various "structure" approaches and all other things you wish.
    Many great writers of the past create wonderful things from this language, but as when you use a complex "tool", the risk is to create something too simple, too obvious. I think if a writer loses his contact with what it wants to transmit, the game is lost and the "magic" fades away.

    This is not to say i am not able to transmit something by writing in Italian, but for what concerns "fantasy" , the English really feel like a natural and direct expression of my thoughts.
    - What's in my mind, what's on the paper.
    This thing for me is more than special, is really wonderful. I can write and write good stuffs about many other thematics in Italian, and also write good in fantasy, but what i get from English "meaningfulness", is more, is really what i was looking for.

    Okay, i know that sometimes i read what i write and i say : "Oh god, what the hell is that... i dont like it" but the passage between "Thoughts" and "Words" is not trivial and is also not my mother language.


    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    Most dictionaries are going to be of limited help with the structure and flow you need to create.

    I'm curious - with what you've shared here, did you think it out and even write it out in Italian, then translate it and flesh it out in English? Or did you compose it from the start in English? There's probably value to both ways. Have you pondered whether your feeling that English is richer for this purpose could just stem from your native tongue being "usual and mundane" versus English being to you exotic? To me Italian is quite exotic, thanks to it being wholly incomprehensible, yet musical in sound.
    For the first rows of text, i started "reading" the story in Italian and then translating into English (not "directly", i tried to think in English) , but after a few minutes, i stop translating, i just follow what my thoughts wants to express and go on with writing, researching good terms, good expressions of what dances in my mind directly in English. Think English, write English.

    And i was happy about what i had written. "Oh god, it is good!"

    Obviously, sometimes i think in Italian and then i try to think that thought in english (and i like when it sounds better).

    I do not think that Italian is usual or mundane, i see it as a very very rich language (i also perceive it as an exotic language) , good for all purposes, but as i explained before, i didnt feel it completely "right" for My purpose. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    That your command of the language is subtly "off" could maybe be made to work to your advantage. I think of speaker David Ring -- he has Cerebral Palsy and is extraordinarily difficult to understand. His speech is halting and slurred. Yet he is a compelling speaker - one hangs on his every word first because one HAS to, to decode his meaning, but then one is drawn in by what he has to say and how he says it. If it is somehow a part of your story, that the narrator perhaps is operating outside of his own mother tongue, a reader might accept a level of unusual expression, even be drawn in by it. I imagine the critical point there is that your storytelling, the ideas beneath the words, would have to be absolutely gripping. As another consideration, do not shy away from English translations of Italian expressions - those are going to be interesting to English readers just because they're not cliches to our ears.
    It is exactly what i think, for some "characters", and also for some expressions, my Italian nativity would help, and will characterize even more the writing. For example, an "foreign" character will speak different, for the accent, for the cadence, for the structure from a "common-speaker" character. I love those differences and customizations, they are natural.

    My own mind is obviously setted different from a English-speaker mind, and i will try to use it as an advantage.


    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post

    If you are going to write no matter what, AND you wish to gain skill in using the English language to do so, I imagine just going ahead and writing in English has to be a grand way to learn! If you accept that your first efforts will not chase Tolkien from the bookshelf, yet you have stories to tell that *must* somehow be expressed in English, then Go For It.
    And i will do it. I feel something inside my thoughts, that maybe is not very clear eheh :-D, but i feel it, and it gives me inspiration, and make me "dreaming" about what i want to write. I think That, for a writer\reader, "fly" with his thoughts beyond the words is THE most indescribable feeling from a book.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    It is a maxim worth mulling over, that before one can learn to creatively 'misuse' a skill, one must first master the proper use. I don't buy that 100%, but there's a core of truth there. I take all manner of liberties with English, and I fancy that my meaning is enhanced by the manner in which I write. But having read however many thousand books, hundreds and hundreds of authors, when I type something nonstandard, I'm shooting for a specific effect.
    I love this thought, and i completely agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbgibson View Post
    Don't take anything I say as discouragement. There's incredible potential, huge possibility of unique value, in someone carrying out a passion outside his usual domain. A trumpeter is going to have an interesting take on playing the guitar. A weaver could perhaps devise a bridge to astound engineers. So you go right ahead and write !
    What you said is only further inspiration for me. Thank you very much.

    (I hope to find the time for writing more in the middle of this "Exams" war period.)
    Last edited by jamsus; 01-15-2011 at 06:39 AM.
    Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.

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