Writing with some foreign words

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

I love other languages. I took German in middle school (not to mention smatterings of Russian, French and Spanish), Spanish in High School and Italian in college, plus several failed attempts to teach myself Welsh.

CC/ Unprose

CC/ Unprose

Doesn’t work.

Anyways, I like having characters of different nationalities, and using expressions/words to convey that. In The Continent, Liv is Dutch (no, his first name isn’t Dutch, but his family has a naming system they follow religiously).

Anyways, I thought it would be cool if various vessals had names in their home languages. The ship Liv served on ( briefly) is called The Beacon.

I looked it up in Dutch.

Baken. Baken. Bacon.

Although, I have also found “Baak” as another translation. I think I may go with this one.

What a cabbage!

The Twirl and Swirl of Letters

Languages have such wonderful little idioms. For example, in Italian when you want to say “damn!” you say “che cavolo!” That’s literally “What a cabbage!”

English has some quaint expressions as well. In New England, “wicked” is positive. “Wicked good” is several notches above good, and “Wicked awesome” is about as good as you can get.

For example:

Mike: “Did you see the Sox game last night?”

Jim: “See it? I was there! Beating the Yankees 12-0 was wicked awesome!”


In creating different cultures (I’m looking at fantasy and sci fi writers specifically), keep in mind the strange things that might not be translated literally. It could be very interesting to have a character translating from his language to another, or even from one area of the country to another, and having a complete miscommunication.