Foreign words
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Hi all--I am revising a memoir about culture crossing (Hawaii to Hong Kong) and intercultural marriage and considering ways to gracefully handle foreign words and phrases. Italics is the convention, but is it the rule? And what about translations? Parentheses or set off by dashes? First time only? I'd be interested to hear your solutions.
  • Hi Heather. I think the most important consideration is: Do I need the foreign word or not? You will already have to include foreign names of people and places. The reader won't want to be slowed down with too many unnecessary foreign words too. Sometimes a direct translation already sounds foreign and gives some idea of the way the people think. My first novel took place in China with all Chinese characters, and I found that I didn't need many foreign words.
  • Hi Heather, I am responding months later but am interested to know what you learned. I am also writing a cross-cultural novel (from Tokyo to Arusha, Nairobi to Amman and a few other places too). So far, I have italicized foreign words and have tried to give hints on what they mean. I have used dashes and non-Latin alphabets, but this is my first novel so I have no idea what rules really matter. Interested to learn more.