The Djao'Mor'Terra Collective (fayanora) wrote,
The Djao'Mor'Terra Collective

Language challenge

It is challenging having characters that speak languages I don't. Several of the Ravenstones speak Spanish and Navajo in addition to English and American Sign Language. I don't know more than a few words of ASL either, but it's a lot easier to ignore that in writing, since you either have to translate what's said into English or describe every darned sign anyway, and it's just easier to translate it.

The Navajo is especially vexing, I can't use much of it before I basically have to go "they were talking rapidly in Navajo," because I don't know the language, and online resources (any resources, really) for the Diné bizaad (Navajo language) are not nearly as good for the ones for Spanish. In fact, the best one is still not great. What I really need is either the opportunity to learn Diné via immersion or else get the help of someone who's a fluent speaker.

Until either of those unlikely events, I have to keep it down to simple words and pre-assembled phrases I can find online because I don't understand how the language is put together, and skimming the Wikipedia page about Navajo syntax is enough to make me realize that this language is very, VERY different from English. Though I did today manage to work out enough about the syntax of Navajo to figure out which form of ádí I needed Vedya to use. (It's shádí, which makes sense, since shimá, a word that gets used at least once in every chapter, means "my mother." So shádí means "my older sister." The online Navajo dictionary which is my best resource doesn't specify these different forms of the words, or at least not always.)

Also, Diné has a lot of sounds that are foreign to English speakers. Even my unusual talent for being able to repeat foreign sounds (even if my memory for vocabulary etc is horrendous) leaves me struggling on the few occasions I've tried to mimic its sounds.

But you know, Diné is a beautiful enough language to me that if I was going to learn any language other than English, I think I'd want it to be Diné. Even if it's not very likely for me.

As challenging as it is having characters who speak languages I don't, I find it rewarding. It's hard to explain why.

This was cross-posted from
You can comment either here or there.
Tags: language, ravenstone, what i'm writing, writing
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded