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Thread: Dated Language

  1. #11
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    What are some words and dialogue known for being popular in the 1940's? That's probably what I should be aiming for?

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  2. #12
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    I pulled up Google, and this is what I got:

    Swell
    Hubba Hubba
    Carry a Torch (have a crush on)
    Swell
    Kisser (mouth)
    Horsefeathers
    Hoofer (Dancer)
    Cat's Meow (Something that is totally awesome)
    Big Cheese (Like the boss)
    Golly
    Heeby-Jeebie

    Some of those words are still like around today, but nobody ever says them (ie swell) unless they are trying to be funny, so...
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  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    What are some words and dialogue known for being popular in the 1940's? That's probably what I should be aiming for?
    Quote Originally Posted by Maple_and_PheonixFeather
    I pulled up Google, and this is what I got:

    Swell
    Hubba Hubba
    Carry a Torch (have a crush on)
    Swell
    Kisser (mouth)
    Horsefeathers
    Hoofer (Dancer)
    Cat's Meow (Something that is totally awesome)
    Big Cheese (Like the boss)
    Golly
    Heeby-Jeebie

    Some of those words are still like around today, but nobody ever says them (ie swell) unless they are trying to be funny, so...
    The problem with this approach is that your characters will sound like 1940s-50s English speakers, which they are not. I believe it would be better to just write more formally, avoiding contractions, and sprinkle actual Korean words here and there to create the setting, rather than use the idioms of mid-century Americans or Britons.

    Tim the Enchanter

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim the Enchanter
    The problem with this approach is that your characters will sound like 1940s-50s English speakers, which they are not. I believe it would be better to just write more formally, avoiding contractions, and sprinkle actual Korean words here and there to create the setting, rather than use the idioms of mid-century Americans or Britons.
    I agree with Tim. Each country has its own slang, so why would North Koreans be using the exact slang Americans used especially if they aren't speaking the same language. Like Tim said, try to make it more formal instead of English-like. Not every bit of slang or all of our phrases have direct translations. Like a slang word for "cool" in French is super-chouette (chouette literally means baby owl). So remember, even without the isolation they would have very different slang and speaking patterns than Westerners. They probably aren't going to say "swell" or "cat's meow" because that wasn't their culture. As I've said, each language has its own slang and remember, not all makes sense when translated.

  5. #15
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Yeah, maybe slang wasn't the write word. I want to create dated language, but can't really do that without using a few dates words in English. But I did like the idea of using words like "galoshes", "veranda" and "ice box". Maybe just old words than have sense been replaced by other words.

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  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Yeah, maybe slang wasn't the write word. I want to create dated language, but can't really do that without using a few dates words in English. But I did like the idea of using words like "galoshes", "veranda" and "ice box". Maybe just old words than have sense been replaced by other words.
    I don't think you'll get the effect you want by trying to translate idioms. The only way to really make that come through would be if you were actually writing in Korean.

    There are two ways to convey the fact that North Koreans speak differently. First, just tell us so. Sometimes you have to tell rather than show, so have a South Korean character note the North Korean's accent, or remark that "The way she talked reminded me of my grandmother."

    The other way is to make sure the North Korean's references are dated. North Koreans have only a vague idea of the Internet, if they've even heard of it. Most of them will never have seen a computer. Cars are rare luxury items. Food shortages are a part of life. So the things they say will be informed by that very different worldview.

    Here's a small example, based on an anecdote told to me by a friend who once visited the DPRK on business. (He wasn't an American.) Like every other foreign guest, he was assigned a guide/translator who shadowed him every moment he was in the country; needless to say, this "guide" was a government agent whose job was to keep him from seeing anything he shouldn't, report everything he said, and be on the lookout for any signs that he might be a spy.

    Of course, these guides make an effort to ingratiate themselves with their guests, so as to get them talking freely, so she got my friend talking about his life back home. The topic of his family came up, and he mentioned that he often drove to visit his sister on weekends.

    "Aha!" the guide said, certain that she'd caught my friend in a lie. She remembered something he'd said earlier about his sister: "That's not possible -- you said she lives in another city!"

    In North Korea, of course, even if you're one of the few individuals who has access to a car, nobody just drives to another city whenever they feel like it. It was such a ridiculous idea in this government agent's mind, she was certain my friend had to be making it up.

    Those sorts of cultural disconnects are things that would stand out in conversation with a North Korean.

  7. #17
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    I actually feel like I could show and tell as well. Maybe I could just make an effort to make her sound like an older person, make an effort to make her dialogue completely devoid of slang, no matter how minor; try and study more 'invented' words and terms, and words that had been created to replace other words.

    I've been obsessing over this a lot lately, mostly because I feel like it could be a great focal point in the story, and kind of be something the readers can be aware of too. Even though I can't convey the speak patterns with actual Korean, I can at least make an effort to convey the same in English.

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  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    I actually feel like I could show and tell as well. Maybe I could just make an effort to make her sound like an older person, make an effort to make her dialogue completely devoid of slang, no matter how minor; try and study more 'invented' words and terms, and words that had been created to replace other words.

    I've been obsessing over this a lot lately, mostly because I feel like it could be a great focal point in the story, and kind of be something the readers can be aware of too. Even though I can't convey the speak patterns with actual Korean, I can at least make an effort to convey the same in English.
    Consider what I did in Für das größere Wohl. Since I had little idea of how the German language has changed from 1939 to the present (apart from informalities like "Tschüss!"), I just wrote my dialogue in normal English and avoided slang. But I wrote the dialogue so the setting in Nazi Germany was very clear: people greet each other with "Heil Hitler" and make openly racist and anti-Semitic comments. I also stuck German words here and there in dialogue and narration to further form the setting.

    I suggest doing something similar. I would suggest that you just write normally and not kill yourself worrying about how to represent DPRK Korean in English, which to be frank is an exercise in futility unless you know the language to begin with. Add commie vocabulary for flavour and avoid netspeak and obvious English slang, and you should be fine. I think you are making this much harder than it needs to be. Don't stress yourself out too much – your dialogue doesn't have to be a perfect interpretation of Korean.

    Tim the Enchanter

  9. #19
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    I gave myself a giant headache with what pure-bloods in The Phoenix Revolution would sound like, particularly considering linguistic drift.

    Then I decided they would just do things like drop contractions and sound vaguely more formal and be confused about various Muggle things.

    Honestly, that's enough. You don't need to go overboard with it really. Emphasizing the Communist attitude of your North Koreans will be enough.
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