Monday, September 13, 2010

Question

Truthfully I don't know how many of you have read my excerpts or my In Their Own Words character series, but I have a question regardless.

In my book REMEMBERING YOU, I have flavored the dialogue with Italian. Some are curse words (because they sound so cool in Italian AND I didn't want to offend so many readers) and some are regular words like lavastovigli which actually means - dishwasher.

My question -- Do you, as a reader, want a glossary at the end of the book? A dictionary perhaps, to help you interpret the words you don't know or want to know but don't have the time to look up?

Have any of you seen this done before? I know it's been done in non-fiction but what about fiction? Do you think it would help?

34 comments:

The English Writer said...

This would actually be a good idea. My first book featured alot of French, and now I wish I'd been able to explain it better.

Christine Danek said...

I like this idea. I have seen this before and it helped out a lot. I've seen it for language and for characters. By the end of this certain series there were so many characters the author put a "glossary of characters." It helped.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I seen it before, but I usually don't notice it until AFTER I've finished the book. It's too late by then.

Linda G. said...

A glossary isn't a bad idea. Since it usually comes at the end of a book, it wouldn't be intrusive. But honestly? I'd rather be able to figure out the meaning of a word through context--that way, I don't have to be pulled away from the fictive world just to research something. :)

Lynn said...

I like dialogue that slips in the characters native tongue. As long as it is revealed somehow what the word means (possibly by feedback from another character), I don't think a glossary is neccessary. Honestly, I'm unlikely to flip away from a page and interrupt my reading, to find out.

Clarissa Draper said...

Hmm, that would be cool to have a glossary. I don't know if it has been done before but that' cool.

CD

Jaydee Morgan said...

I think most of time you can figure out the word's meaning by the way it's used so I'm not sure if a glossary is needed.

Las Vegas Writer said...

Anne, I was actually wondering how you would write your dialogue in another language. In my WiP, I want to use some Russian. What would the dialogue look like? Do I use the characters used in Russian or their English equivalent to sound it out to readers? And after that, do I need to put a translation in Italics after the dialogue?

Ed Pilolla said...

i like what linda says about context allowing the reader to carry on if he or she wants to. i prefer footnotes so i can quickly get the additional information. how cool would that be to look for the asterisk at the bottom and see 'asshole.'
but i know all the italian swear words, having heard my mom call me them at some point:)
hey, consider changing your about me to say you are writing romance novels. what's this try crap? as yoda says, do or do not. there is no try.
:)

Falen (Sarah) said...

it's a common occurence in fantasy novels.
For me, it doesn't affect me one way or another.

Mac said...

My kneejerk reaction is...no. And unless the context clearly shows the emotion...I wouldn't even think you'd wish to use the language anyway. Just thinking outloud. :O)

Terry Towery said...

As cool as it sounds, it's probably not necessary. I remember reading THE GODFATHER by Mario Puzo when I was a kid, and having fun trying to figure out the Italian. It was easy, because he was careful as to how he used it, i.e., what the context was.

So you're probably good to go. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can usually figure out the meaning of a word just from the context in which it is used. Unless it's science fiction or fantasy book full of strange names and words, I never look at the glossary.

Crimey said...

Ann, I agree with Linda above. "I'd rather be able to figure out the meaning of a word through context." I think most readers are savvy enough to figure out through context clues. Don't I sound like a grammar school student all over again. :)

Piedmont Writer said...

Wow you guys, this is great stuff here. I'm still not sure what to do about it. I'm thinking I might draw one up and send it when I sign my agent. (hah hah hah, ever the optimist) I'll let her make the decision. I guess it's only right.

Then again, if I didn't put one in the book... I know how I feel when I have to look stuff up.

Let the debate continue.

Julie Dao said...

I think it's a very good idea. I tend to get distracted by footnotes or endnotes (whatever you call those) in the writing itself, but a nice little glossary of terms all the way in the back is always helpful :)

Patti said...

I think as long as your conveying the meaning with the other words around it, I don't think you need it.

Bish Denham said...

A glossary would be helpful. I had to work at pronouncing the dishwasher word. I have to admit when I read a book with strange words/names I skip over the word. If there are too many, it makes my stumbling reading too difficult and I give up.

Talli Roland said...

No, I don't. I think you can tell by the context what the word might mean. As long as there aren't too many sprinkled throughout, I think it's fine to leave them as is.

Donna Hole said...

Unless he speaks mostly in Italian, then I'd say its unnecessary. The reader will be able to figure it out in context. If its a whole sentence, you're going to translate it right with the dialogue anyway. As for swear words, I'm sure those will come across as cursing, and just the sentiment is enough.

If there was a glossary, I'd probably look at it at some point - probably when I finished the book - but I wouldn't distract myself from the reading. I like to figure it out as I go along.

.....dhole

Julie Musil said...

Great question! I don't think I've ever read any fiction with a glossary at the end, at least that I can think of. When odd words are thrown in a book, the context surrounding it always makes it clear what the word meant. Know what I mean?

Piedmont Writer said...

Okay, the score is 6 - 14 in favor of a glossary. I guess I'll have to do some more thinking on this.

I think it's a kind of good idea but now I'm wondering how many kids are going to read it on their mother's night stand and start running around screaming "Mache Cazzo?" Or how many mothers will be screaming it at the line in the supermarket.

Maybe I can start a new trend? Screaming swear words in Italian.

@ Ed -- I like that idea a lot too. footnotes. That would be interesting.

Rose Cooper said...

I like the idea of having some sort of definition there, but like someone else mentioned, if it's in the back of the, you usually don't see it until after you're read the book. By then it's pointless. I love the idea of footnotes though. That would be an interesting twist to fiction!

Portia said...

Good question! I like it when the writer finds a clever way to help me know the meaning, whether it's another writer thinking about what the word means or contextual clues.

Elliot Grace said...

...I've never been a fan of including a glossary, and when asked, I declined to have it in mine. I like figuring situations out on my own, and going with my gut. Personally, if the drama's in need of clarification, it's probably too confusing to follow properly without re-reading the thing anyway, which spells trouble from a sales standpoint.

Anne, so glad you enjoyed my post yesterday. Your comments are always supporting and heartfelt. Thanks so much:)

Deniz Bevan said...

I agree that the words should be understandable in context, but as a geek :-) I love books with extra stuff. I'd get a real kick out of a glossary, whether I understood the words in the novel or not!

DL Hammons said...

Personally, I wouldn't take the time to look it up unless it came in a crucial part of the book. I'm a lazy reader! :)

Piedmont Writer said...

You know, this footnotes thing is really starting to resonate with me. Like Ed said, a little asterisk after stronzo*



and wah-la we have asshole.

The Words Crafter said...

I've read many books that featured other languages and they would have the translation in italics. I like that better than a glossary at the end because I want to stay with the story and will usually just skip it and hope I figure it out.

Don't know if that helps.

And for the record, I LOVED the In Their Own Words posts.....

Lisa Gail Green said...

I think if you do it well enough (so that we understand the meaning from the context) it isn't necessary. Honestly, I don't usually take the time to actually read those.

paulgreci said...

If there is an organic way to make the meaning of the words known in the story then I'd say skip the glossary. If not, then I'd consider using one.

Al said...

I have seen fiction with glossaries.
Having said that I think it isn't really necessary if the meanings can be deduced from context

VR Barkowski said...

Interesting question. If the Italian words are explained by context or extraneous to what's going on in the scene, then I don't think you need a glossary. But if there's even one scene where the reader is left wondering, a glossary is a good idea. When reading, I will put down a book to look up words. Having to consult Babelfish *really* takes me out of a story. I may not pick it up again.

notesfromnadir said...

I think it's a very good idea as not everyone knows Italian. Like VR Barkowski said, having to consult Babelfish *really* takes me out of a story.

It's always good to remember to make things as easy for your readers as you can--we can sometimes be a little lazy! :)