If I had to describe myself, it would be in a word that has many meanings with a complexity which falls off the tongue.
A word made up of many elements, is deceptive in appearance, and creates an illusion from the imagination.
My word would be Phantasmagoric. ~Summer Ross

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Descriptions and languages

I have been taking French for three years now in college, this fall will be my last class, I also took four years of the language in high school. anyway point is- how to make it work for me in writing.

I've been toying with descriptions and use of other languages. The following view was also from last winter and I added french into it as a trial portion. I'm not quite sure if it works. But either way do you attempt to use a different dialect in your writing? what would your readers take away from it? personally I think a different language adds flavor to a character, but in some pieces it helps to find an edge to words that english might not have. please feel free to give me your opinions on this.

9:30am (view from a window)
            White clouds burden Casper Mountain with heavy thick eaves, slowly, patiently, and with remorse dropping gray sheets encompassing the vast blue rocky terrain.
            Like a woman in the last trimester of pregnancy, the burdened nuages noirs* are in wait of dropping the white flurries upon the dry cracked yellow weeds and black asphalt of the city that lay in a valley before the hillside.
            The breeze barely wakes as it lay dormant waiting for the heavy sprinkles to grace its Northeast path. Silence envelopes the city in stillness like the mother wrapping her womb.
            The sun pushes brightness through the dusky clouds in attempts to heat the storms arrival. The gray bleakness of the sky allows glimmered reflections of a white radiance to cascade over the city.
And, slowly, like paper floating from a tall building, the first flakes find their way to the harsh ground and the breeze rushes up to greet them.
.. ..
nuages noirs*~ French for storm clouds


Jemi Fraser said...

Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot dropped a lot of comments in French throughout those mysteries. As I have a pretty good handle on French I thought it was awesome.

I think you'd have to be careful to keep the references pretty clear for most audiences. I wouldn't overdo it because it might be frustrating for some readers.

Talli Roland said...

Dialect can get really tiring for readers if it's difficult to read, so I don't use it. I'm not sure about the French - I think there has to be a reason for it, otherwise it interrupts the flow of the narrative.

Happy weekend!

RosieC said...

When I use foreign languages in my writing (and, believe me, I frequently do), it's because I want to convey the culture of the language in addition to the usage. I tend to restrict my use of it to dialogue when the speakers aren't native English speakers, or description of foreign places.

In this case, I'm not sure it's necessary. The fact that I don't know any French made this a tad awkward for me, because I had to stop reading, find the translation, and then go back to the description. I think "storm clouds" would work just as well here.

Summer Ross said...

Conveying culture is a really good point to make. I appreciate all of your input, I don't use languages much, but I can see it from the different points of view.
Talli- you are right, it can get very tiring, even in my literature courses sometimes I have to stop reading and come back to it because there is so much in one piece.

Thanks for your comments!

Francine said...


I think if you stick to common usage in narrative ie; Joie de Vivre, deja vu etc., most readers will follow along okay.

The best way to use a foreign language is within dialogue.

Let one character say something like: "Je t'aime."

and his/her counterpart say: " I love you too."


Summer Ross said...

Francine-- thats a great idea too! thanks

Elaine AM Smith said...

You'll have to write a sultry French starlet into your wip and let her rip! :)

Lynda Young said...

I think it works in dialogue, when it's used in a way that is esily understood by anyone. I'd hesitate to use it in standard description though.

Jen said...

I can get frustrated when reading other dialects more or less because as a reader it takes longer to get through the novel, and if I'm in a very heated scene and all the sudden I must stop to try and figure out what it means it frustrates me.

That being said, if it's interesting enough I stay through the whole thing! I think it adds a lot of character to the novel, which makes me a fan. So I suppose if it's done well it doesn't matter!!

How amazing how much language you have done! I still only know english, which some days I think is hard!

Cleverly Inked said...

I just read an adult genre book and it had a character who used french and it seemed to fit it was something that was easy to understand and even if you didn't understand the words you were not left in the dust.

I heart comments~~ You all Rock my world!

Make your own