East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

“Posh, posh!”

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I just discovered that in the Uyghur language, “make way!” translates as “posh, posh!” – a typical call from someone trying to open his way through a crowd.
In a marketplace, for instance.
Which is just what I needed to put a nice touch of color in the second chapter of my current work.


Just this – I wanted to let the world know.

But really – the story of dropping foreign words in stories to add flavor is nothing new.
Edgar Rice Burroughs did it to great effect – and he even used made-up words!
The only problem is finding balance, and not overdoing it.
As a rule of thumb, I allow myself one full phrase (say, six words, more or less) every 1000 words, and I generally avoid weird-looking mouthfuls and words that require special characters.
Also, I try and use expressions the meaning of which can be easily extracted from context.
If I go for a full phrase, I try and find a way to help the reader translating, providing hints it in the next paragraph.
Does it work?
It seems to.

Or, as one of my characters might say, pulling a thumb up and grinning, “chataq yoq!”
That would be “No problem!” in Uyghur.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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