Writing dialogues for characters whose first language is not English?

Asked by: Michele Cook

How do you write a character who isn’t fluent in English?

In books, characters generally speak in coherent, correct sentences unless you’re trying to make a specific point. So, consider just writing the character’s dialogue as normal, and mentioning their heavy accent or questionable writing skills in places where it makes sense.

How do you write a character who speaks another language?

If your point-of-view character understands the foreign language, just write the dialogue in English. At the end, add ‘she said in Russian. ‘ Or whatever. If you want to drop in the occasional foreign word, make sure the meaning of the dialogue would still be crystal clear, even if you deleted the foreign words.

How do you write a foreign character?

On both PCs and Macs, you can write foreign characters in any application by combining the ALT key (the key next to the space bar) with some alphabetic characters (on the Mac) or numbers (on PCs), pro- vided you type numbers on the numeric keypad, rather than using the numbers at the top of the keyboard.

Can I say English is my first language?

Yes, if you want to. Native or bilingual proficiency is rated 5 on the scale. A person at this level is as fluent as an educated native speaker.

What does broken English look like?

Broken English is a pejorative term for the limited register of English used by a speaker for whom English is a second language. Broken English may be fragmented, incomplete, and/or marked by faulty syntax and inappropriate diction because the speaker’s knowledge of the vocabulary isn’t as robust as a native speaker.

See also  How do I change my cursor size in scrivener?

How do you write dialogue in a foreign language?

Parentheticals. A simple and straightforward option for a single piece of dialogue, parentheticals are also the standard way to format dialogue in another language. This approach is streamlined and perfect for noting a character speaking in a different language for a single piece of dialogue.

How do you write in a different language in a script?

If characters are speaking in a foreign language for the duration of a scene or scenes, put a parenthical like “(in Russian; subtitled)” for the first speaking character, then just use italicized English for the rest of the scene or scenes.