Tweet of the Day: Writing Excuses 6.15: Writing Other Cultures
Languages are not easy. Mastering one can take a lifetime (or more) what with all the rules of grammar, ever changing slang and jargon. So it is no surprise when you come across it can go horribly wrong.
Enter the Blind Idiot Translation.:
A Blind Idiot Translation is a translation from one language to another where the translation is overly literal, grammatically incorrect, very awkward, or clearly misses what the word or phrase was supposed to be.
Of course this can happen to anyone, especially writers who want to use a foreign language (to them) to enhance the realism of their work and avoid the Aliens Speaking English device. Except that the language is foreign to the writer. They don’t speak it, don’t know anyone who does and have the flimsiest <cough> Babel Fish <cough> connection to said language. Most writers avoid this problem by merely using a few loan words or cuss words but leaving the rest in their native tongue.
But this problem is not reserve to foreign languages. It can also appear when an author fails to do the proper research and gets jargon or slang wrong or uses a word that has different meanings to speaker of the same language but of different nationalities.
So threat lightly my friends….