ratcreature: Like a spork between the eyes. (spork)
RatCreature ([personal profile] ratcreature) wrote2017-01-13 02:48 am

not sure whether it is an up or downside...

...but apparently I now know enough Russian to stumble over obvious automatic translation errors in fanfic in yet another language, even though I do not know enough to have even simple conversations.

But I can distinguish some verb forms, and the author in this particular case clearly wanted an imperative (it had an exclamation point and everything) but put in an infinitive form. Not that I knew that particular word (my vocabulary is still very pathetic). Of course in English both look the same (except for the 'to') but in Russian you conjugate more -- only google translate for example won't, even if you add the exclamation point.

They could label a language acquisition stage after this -- it comes way before even A1 proficiency (which in case you are not familiar with the European language reference framework means more or less the ability to understand and produce simple, formulaic conversations in familiar contexts).

I have no idea why authors feel the need to sprinkle other languages into their fiction without knowing the language very well or getting a beta who does. And even then, as a reader it annoys me unless I also read the language at least decently. I loathe not being able to follow all story parts. And yeah, there's hover text and what not, but that won't work on mobile devices or e-readers, so you are stuck with disruptive footnotes...
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)

[personal profile] lilacsigil 2017-01-13 03:03 am (UTC)(link)
The only thing I hate more than non-fluent insertions of other languages* would have to be written-out accents. There are a very small number of authors who can do this well, generally with their own dialect, and I have never seen it done well in fanfiction.

*Occasionally a multilingual author can do something really fun with different languages, so I added non-fluent
hamsterwoman: (Default)

[personal profile] hamsterwoman 2017-01-13 09:35 pm (UTC)(link)
I hope you don't mind a drive-by comment from a random person (I was checking friendsfriends on LJ and saw this post...)

clearly wanted an imperative (it had an exclamation point and everything) but put in an infinitive form

Actually, depending on context, this could be legitimate, correct usage. (Or a more subtle error. Or, of course, exactly what you say, flawed machine translation / looking stuff up in the dictionary without realizing the grammar behind it.)

The infinitive is one of the ways to convey a command in Russian -- it's more abrupt/rude than the actual imperative. Commands to a dog, for instance: "Sit!" is "сидеть", vs what it would be like informally or politely: сиди(те)/сядь(те), depending on whether they are already sitting or not. Similarly, "Стоять!" (stand) is sort of the equivalent of "Freeze!" (as in, the thing a cop will shout at a criminal). Negative imperatives are also often conveyed this way -- a "no smoking" sign will read "не курить" (not to smoke). Basically, if it's an order rather than a request, the infinitive could well be correct.
Edited (Now with actual Cyrillic characters instead of question marks :P) 2017-01-13 21:38 (UTC)
hamsterwoman: (Default)

[personal profile] hamsterwoman 2017-01-13 10:37 pm (UTC)(link)
That's fair! :)

Code-mixing in fiction (I'm thinking pro, not fanfic here) sometimes works for me and sometimes doesn't. I guess mostly it's a case of, if it's true to the characters and integrated well enough that even without speaking the language the reader can follow, then I'm all for it (The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao was a good example of that for me, even though I don't speak Spanish), and if it's there to just show off the writer's ability to use Google Translate... not so much :P Definitely if it's done with errors it drives me mad.