26 April 2012

How Foreign Language Enhances Fictional Characters

Characters Need Characteristics

Giving a fictional character a foreign language can help a great deal. If you give a character an Italian accent, for example, a reader’s entire concept of Italy will probably get added to that character. Making a character hail from a foreign land increases that character’s depth immediately. Preconceived ideas come prepackaged with almost any language you choose. You can relate a lot of information almost instantaneously.

Multiple Languages Can Imply Value for Fictional Characters

Even if you tell your reader outright that your character is dumb, they may believe otherwise if the character speaks multiple languages. The more languages spoken, the higher marks they might receive. Even if intelligence isn’t included, multiple languages add value to a character. A simple-minded character can still translate for others. A character that can read in more than one language may be very valuable to other characters, and to your plot. A single multi-lingual character might help to write you out of several corners, especially if your characters are moving from country to country.

Foreign Languages Add Depth to Stories

When used with finesse, fictional foreign languages can add depth not only to characters but also to entire fictional settings.
Languages imply:
  • Distance
  • Culture
  • Regions
  • Borders
  • Governments
  • Varied upbringing
That is just a handful, and the list can go on. Language can even suggest the passage of time. Writers often use ancient languages to increase intrigue.

Try Using Languages to Spice Up Your Fiction

If your characters have turned out dull, or you are looking for a special twist, try adding the aspect of a foreign language to one of your characters. You might enhance your writing with an unexpected and interesting dynamic.

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