febbraio 25, 2012

Guest post: editing and writing in a second language

Hello, everybody :)! Yesterday, a post of mine went up on Storm Moon Press' blog - about my relationship with editing, and the challenge of writing in a second language. Here's an excerpt from the post:

Writing in a second language

The editing stage – for many writers, it feels harder than actually writing the bloody book. While I am no exception, I find essential for one specific reason: I’m not a native English speaker.

As some of you might already know, I’m Italian, and I moved to London about four years ago to attend university. That’s when I started writing in English, and I have to admit my first attempts were rather disastrous. It wasn’t so much because of mistakes, but rather because of how my Italian language infiltrated my use of English. (...)

This problem translates to fiction writing, too. My sentences are forever lengthy; while they might not be grammatically wrong, they have unconventional structures, which sound odd to native English speakers. Also, I tend to use lots of latin-derived words, because they’re very similar to common Italian words: it was only after annoying many a reader that I realized that they sound like pompous purple prose in English. For example, concupiscence = concupiscienza; perspicacious = perspicace; malediction = maledizione. The almost synonyms lust, smart, and curse don’t come naturally to me, and before someone pointed it out, I never even suspected that my choice of words might be unusual.

These Italianisms aren’t my only challenge. I harbour a burning hatred towards prepositions, that I never seem to get right; I tend to mix up idiomatic expressions, or to try and translate Italian ones and end up with stuff that doesn’t really make sense. But most of all, I have issues with the little details that are conventions rather than actual rules – the ones that aren’t technically wrong, but sound wrong anyway. And the thing is, I can’t see these mistakes: I need someone to point them out for me. I can’t tell if I sound Italian, or if I’m making someone sound like they’re from Dublin rather than from Manchester or Alabama. These are all nuances of the language that can only be picked up living immersed in it. I know them perfectly in Italian: but while I’ve been living abroad for a few years, I’m definitely still struggling with them in English.

Read the rest of the post HERE.

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