July 11, 2020, 09:36:07 AM

Author Topic: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?  (Read 496 times)

Offline ghourmi

Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« on: May 22, 2020, 03:26:39 PM »
Hello all,

I'm writing a story that derives from a video game concept.
The game is about the player send back to Francia in the year 523 after Christ. The player needs to survive in a village and adapt to the new world by using his knowledge.
Part of the theme and the game is to understand the laguage of that time, Frankish or old-Dutch.

The game project is on hold right now but I dicided to write the story in bookform anyway.
But my question now:
Is it acceptable to fantasy readers that part of the dialogues in the book are in old-Dutch?

When writing the story, I bear these tips in mind:
https://www.well-storied.com/blog/my-top-tips-for-utilizing-fictional-languages-in-your-stories

Online ScarletBea

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Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2020, 05:05:39 PM »
Hi, welcome to the forum!
I hope you don't mind I moved the thread, I think you'll get better replies here in the Writers' Corner :)

As for your question, speaking for myself as a reader, I love seeing new/different languages in a book - you just need to either add the translation on a footnote, or make it a mystery to the reader too, discovering what it means at the same time as the character.
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Offline Rostum

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2020, 10:04:40 PM »
Hi and welcome to the forums.

There is a geographical, Temporal and linguistic difference between Frankish and 'Old Dutch' which doesn't exist in any form in the 6th century. High German and low German as a concept appear about 700 years later and Dutch a good while after that. The Low Countries as Holland was known from about the eleventh century was largely underwater and so sparcely populated as not to exist as a nation in 523. Certainly the south of what is now the Netherlands which is drier and likely to know it was part of the Frankish empire 50 years after the fall of Rome but Holland, Dutch or the Netherlands are a nope. Francia reaches the peak of its expansion around 800 Ad and is likely a small number of towns trying to keep Roman ideals alive in a time of failed logistics and bureaucracy. In 523 with a hang on mentality that took a century before they were up to fighting the neighbours and expanding.

Frankish and Latin existed as language within that empire but old Dutch is a 1000 years later. Latin is likely to have been a universal language among Christians much as arabic is among Muslims. Gallo Roman or Vulgar Latin may be an option.

A bit later than 523 but Charlamagne was indirectly reponsible for the viking migrations. The Frankish empire pushed a lot of other tribes north and eventually under population pressure and inheritence law a lot of younger sons went raiding.

Not what you want but hope it helps. @Skip could probably be more precise about the actual history of the region. My interest is 1000-1700 AD and the north getting a viking population to being a great seafaring nation.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2020, 11:14:28 PM by Rostum »

Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2020, 10:13:13 AM »
Could you post some examples for us? I would be able to tell more from that.

The Traitor God & God of Broken Things

Offline ghourmi

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2020, 01:23:45 PM »
Could you post some examples for us? I would be able to tell more from that.

Examples of the language or the dialogues?

here are some examples of the language:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRD25F3j8aY&t=336s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hVdz9gyGX4&feature=emb_logo

@Rostum  has a point. In my book I'm calling it Frankish but old-Dutch is the closest thing that comes to Frankish.

@ScarletBea The protagonist's thoughts are always shared and the reader can learn the language together with the protagonist.

Offline Rostum

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2020, 12:54:59 PM »
Sorry I took that as an and/or not a comparative.

Offline Skip

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2020, 04:33:30 AM »
>Is it acceptable to fantasy readers that part of the dialogues in the book are in old-Dutch?

Another way to think about this question: is it acceptable that part of the dialogues are utterly incomprehensible to the reader?

The chances of anyone being able to read Old Dutch are slim. Anyone who does recognize it is probably going to be so distracted (look! a phrase in Old Dutch!) that they'll drop right out of the story.

Also, given that we have only scattered fragments, none of which are even as long as a paragraph, I'm not at all sure one could construct even simple dialogue.

But let's return to my re-phrasing of the question. How do you the author @ghourmi feel about having your reader being unable to understand parts of dialogue?

Offline Rostum

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2020, 06:22:13 PM »
I am hazarding a guess that @ghourmi is Dutch speaking either from the netherlands, indonesia or the Antilles and despite his English being depressingly good thats not his mother tongue? That said modern Dutch is spoken by only 20 million or so. 'Old Dutch' is less complete than anglo saxon or old Norse despite being a much newer language and I am guessing would make sense to almost none of those in written form. Reading 1880's lit in english is slow going for me and I would rather have the modern version.

Totally unrelated but do you know this book. https://www.amazon.co.uk/tresoor-van-Jacob-Jansz-Poortvliet/dp/9024271711

Incedible paintings telling a story.

Offline Skip

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2020, 05:06:36 AM »
I don't know it, but I'm not surprised such a book exists. There was a fascination with "la vie quotidienne" in the 19thc--folkways stuff--and the Dutch have always had a keen eye for the ordinary. Alas, the book on Amazon contains no preview and the description is in Dutch, a language that drives me batty because I can *almost* sort of figure it out, then it all falls apart. I read Dutch about as well as I ride a skateboard. <g>
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Offline Rostum

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2020, 10:04:16 AM »
It was translated by an American and World Cat have cheap copies, a steal at $18. Beautiful Bruegel style paintings with the story running through them. The houses shown in the book have been recreated at a museum site and are populated and furnished by re-enactors.

https://www.worldcat.org/title/daily-life-in-holland-in-the-year-1566-and-the-story-of-my-ancestors-treasure-chest/oclc/26576749?referer=di&ht=edition

Offline ghourmi

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2020, 08:05:13 PM »
But let's return to my re-phrasing of the question. How do you the author @ghourmi feel about having your reader being unable to understand parts of dialogue?

I don't mind as long as I'm not completely in the dark for to long.

My story is about a man of the 21th century that has been send back in time to the year 523.
Only the first 3 chapters of the book (2 of them will take place in the 6th century) will contain dialogs in old-Dutch. The dialogues will be accompanied with impressions of the protagonist so the reader will have a feeling of what the dialogue is about.
After the first 3 chapters the protagonist will have learned the language and all the dialogues will continue in the common language.

@Rostum I'm actually from the Flemish part of Belgium. My English is ok thanks to google translate and my french is horrible.  ;D

Offline Skip

Re: Frankish/old-Dutch dialogues in my coming novel?
« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2020, 08:52:16 PM »
>as long as I'm not completely in the dark for to long.

And there's the rub. What is too long for one reader will be ok for another. What the author thinks is not completely in the dark might be irritatingly dark for a reader.

By choosing something incomprehensible--whether it's an antiquated language or a conlang--the author risks alienating some readers. The question is, is it worth the risk? What is the author (or the story) gaining that justifies risking losing readers? These questions carry double weight when the incomprehensible part comes at the beginning of the story.

Ultimately, you make your own call, of course, but you did ask. You now have my two cents, which you can apply toward buying drinks for all. <g>
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