I’m writing and editing a new chapter of my story Alone in Anórien.The working title is: The Forgotten People. It is not a good title if I consider the present content. Somehow it is too general and does not tell at all what it is about. At least I hope my other chapters are better titled. I tend to give a small hint in my chapter but not betray the content so that my readers may still enjoy it. Spoilers suck, I know. (Perhaps for a future chapter though?)
Writing this chapter is quite a challenge, but I seem to say that for every chapter I post – it might be that each one of them has its own little quirks and odd ends; nothing surprising really. But I believe this one is even more important – I have to build their relationship (between Megan and the Druedain) in a way that is believable. What I write now will effect their interaction for the remainder of the story. Huge responsibility! The language barrier has to be described too – I will try to avoid all clichés here. Can’t portray either of them as stupid, can I? So I’ll try to return back to the time I first started to learn a foreign language and go on from that experience.
Well, the first language I learned was German. I was perhaps five or six, don’t really remember all that well anymore. I was in kindergarten and there was a small group that learned songs and few phrases. We prepared a small dance for the end of the year where we showed all parents what we have learned during the year. All special groups did that. Some danced, others sang, one told poems or performed a short story. What fun it was! But I was quite familiar with German – the TV and cartoons, you must understand. We did not have Cartoon Network back then and I watched Austrian or German cartoons from time to time. In fact, I watched the majority of Disney in German. Crazy, isn’t it? 😉 The memories are hazy but I know we have learned about animals and flowers: die Biene (a bee), der Hund (a dog), die Katze (a cat), der Igel (a hedgehog)… der Tulipan (tulip), die Sonnenblume (a sunflower), das Baum (a tree) and so on. It was interesting how we all reacted when an animal suddenly changed grammatical gender in German. (lol)
But is funny how we learned everything by heart and were so proud of our accomplishments. Some forgot everything soon after the classes were over, others did not. And the pronunciation! I must laugh even now.
It’s so much easier to learn a language when you are young. Watching the stories unfold before me on TV I quickly guessed what a phrase meant and once I started to learn the language in school I advanced pretty fast. So perhaps German wasn’t such a challenge as it was English. I was introduced to English for the first time when I was ten or so. Sure, I did watch movies with my family but they had subtitles or were on the German TV. I never really listened that closely to the language people spoke in the movie before – I did not really need to, the subtitles told me all I needed to know, only the emotional nuances added to the scenes.
I must admit I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with English for some time. I was not a bad student but it did not flow as easily as German. 😉 Yeah, some would say German is way more complicated, but to me it was a second language that accompanied me from early childhood on. Maybe I did not speak it as fluently as I understood it, but it was and is a language I believe I understand very well. English however, sounded different and at first appeared to me just as a collection of odd sounds mixed together. The vowels are just so odd compared to my mother tongue and German. We all stumbled over the more ‘complicated’ words. I just detested the cassettes – strange accents I couldn’t really understand, spoken too quickly and with a lot of noises in the background – my personal nightmare… And the writing! Dear God! Letters that are not voiced, completely different from the way my mother tongue speaks it and so on… Really, it was hard. There are not as many problems with writing my mother tongue (at least it does not appear so to me) or even German. I had to learn how to read every word, remember how it is written and a bunch of other things. Then I started to mix up German and English since quite a few things are similar and my brain decided it would be nice to connect both languages in one neat package. I would be writing a German exam and I would only remember the English translation of a word (and the other way around) – this lasted for about a year I believe but afterwards there were no more problems and the languages got their own places in my memory.
This was perhaps a reason I did not like English even if my grades were A’s and B’s. But then we got a new teacher who was really strict but her explanations suddenly made sense. I finally understood, really understood what we were talking about and got the language ‘into my ear’. She spoke with a very good British accent, encouraging us to speak up too, to understand the grammar not only learn it for the exam. I was finally more comfortable with the language but still hesitant in using it everyday. Others knew more words – from songs, movies and magazines, by now. My choice there would be German. I finally grew out of this in High School. The German classes were simply not as demanding because the majority of my classmates learned it for the first time while I spoke it for eight years. The teacher knew that and she asked me more when I was orally examined – it was still a walk in the park though. Thank God I was not as foolish to choose French or I’d be really in deep shit. The teacher was a fire-breathing dragon – at least I could slack in my German classes.
Well, I imagine Megan’s troubles in learning the Druadan language would be quite the same. Mixing up sounds, loosing the pattern of speech, intonation and so on… The question is though: should I really try to make up words of a new language? I believe the problems I would face if I tackled this major challenge would rob me of the pleasure I have in writing Megan’s story. But at the same time it would be quite foolish to ‘translate’ the conversations… I believe it would look and feel quite stupid. Can you imagine an entire chapter made up with italics in the place of conversation? I shudder to imagine it.
I guess my readers will see the compromise I made and hopefully judge it to be the right one – I wrote the chapter with only Megan ‘talking’. Only description of the Druadan and their actions is there, but their interaction is still the major point as I’m trying to build a lasting relationship between my characters. Do I make sense?
I searched quite a long time for names I could use for the Druadan – in the end I decided for a mix of Native American names. I do hope I will not commit a major faux-pas if I use names from different tribes and language groups together. I would be slightly upset if someone used my mother tongue in a wrong manner and that is why I should behave as I wish others would. I had only one name in mind for the current chapter but I would probably use more in the future. Any ideas?
I hope you are all well; I must finish one painting I started during the short breaks. I hope I’d be able to upload it soon. The new chapter should be done by tomorrow or Wednesday; must give myself some time for editing. I found so many mistakes in the last part of my previous chapter… *shakes head while hiding beneath the table in shame*
Ok, really must wrap this up 😉