For those of us who speak English, coming across spelling and grammar idiosyncrasies can often bring back the awareness that we are communicating with others from a totally different culture half-way around the world. It can be tricky for editors to decide whether a “foreign” voice needs to be changed to conform, or retained for its fresh appeal. It’s a fine line that depends on many variables including an "irritation" factor.
In fiction writing, dialogue is often spelt with artistic licence (i.e., incorrectly) in order to portray the English being spoken by a character with an accent or different dialect. But grammatical and syntactical quirks can also be used with great effect and can give the reader a break from difficult-to-read contractions and misspellings.
Do you write in a language other than your “mother tongue”? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Here are some foreign foibles I’ve come across recently:
Too much of money.And some commonly confused words that even native English speakers get mixed up:
Borrow me your car.
Can I lend your car?
Learn me to speak English.
I can learn with help of you.
I want to be best in company.
Can you help me for that?
Please, suggest me books I be reading.
I saw you from the party.
This project is going to take sometime.
Find information in Internet.
Cite, site, and sightCite a reference book; a construction site; eye sight
Incite and insightIncite violence; to have insight into, or awareness of, a situation
Lay and lieYou lay an object down; you lie down
-- More Variations on a Theme of English:
US and UK English
More US and UK-isms
Elsa Neal is a writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Visit her website to download her free mini report on the Ten Most Frustrating Grammar Rules and How to Remember Them. Stay and browse through her resources for writers or follow her writing insights at her Fictional Life Blog.