Oct 08 2008

Invented words are painful

Published by at 2:16 pm under Word Choice,Writing Articles

(Courtesy of xkcd).

Please don’t invent words when an immediate English translation is available.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Invented words are painful”

  1. ***on 09 Mar 2017 at 5:24 pm

    I have a question that ia only indirectly related to the article.
    My comic takes place in the 31st century, wherein aliens have come to Earth, and brought their language with them. Would you advise against writing background text the way it would be seen by someone there— a mix of future-English and an alien language of my own invention? Or would you find it a pleasant level of detail/world building? I am trying to decide whether to have it that way or in plain English before I reach the drawing stage (there is no point in creating a working language, only to relegate it to character names and the occasional euphemism), and was wondering about your opinion.

  2. B. McKenzieon 09 Mar 2017 at 6:15 pm

    To help readers easily follow the work, I’d suggest going light on it. Replacing the word for, say, “soldier” with “mubarati” by itself is probably not going to develop the aliens all that much. However, depending on their cultural perspective, their language might work really differently than most terrestrial ones, which could be interesting. For example…
    –They don’t have a separate word for “soldier”, they just use “adult” or the species name interchangeably. (Also, might try translating “civilian” as “child.”)
    –They don’t have a word for “sorry,” and regular phrases like “Sorry about that” might get translated as, say, “Deal with it.”
    –Whatever they have an unusually advanced vocabulary for discussing (e.g. 30 words for “snow” or types of mutilation or whatever).

  3. ***on 10 Mar 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you. 🙂

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