Mar. 9th, 2012

bagheera_san: (OMG)
I have a German linguistics essay/termpaper to write (about something related to writing, written language etc - the technical term is graphemics or graphematics) and stupidly I thought that writing about online fandom from a linguistic perspective would be a cool idea. There are three problems with this:

1) it has to be in German, about German fandom
2) no one has ever written anything about this - the closest I've got are linguistic studies of chat communication, email, blogging etc. - mostly in English
3) linguistics isn't exactly my strong suit and I have no idea what I'm doing

But the biggest problem is definitely German fandom. I haven't so much as dipped a foot into the German part of fandom since I was about 17 because I abandoned it as soon as I started to write exclusively in English. I'm almost tempted to write a story in German just to see if I still can. All German fanfiction sounds terrible to me. Is this because you're more sensitive to bad style in your own language, or because I'm not finding the good stories (since so far I've only discovered the German equivalent of fanfiction.net) or because there's something wrong with non-English fandom in general? Fanfiction is largely anglophone, and English is where its stylistic conventions have developed. I assume (but I don't know if this is true) that German online fandom started as a translation/imitation of anglophone online fandom (and to some extent maybe Japanese fandom), with people trying to do the same thing but in their native language and that might be the reason why some of it sounds awkward.

For example, German fanfic authors LOVE gerunds and participles (the -ing forms of verbs). However, gerunds are typical of English, and sound awkward if you translate them directly into German - usually, where English can use a simple gerund, German needs slightly longer and more complicated phrases.

An example from the summary of a D/M fic:
"Mit dem Master an seiner Seite reist der Doktor immer noch durch das Universum, Welten entdeckend, besch├╝tzend, rettend."

The part in italics could be translated as "discovering, protecting and saving worlds". In English those three gerunds/participles sound perfectly okay and they fulfil the function of verbs (you could also say "they discover, protect and save worlds"). In German, a participle can't really function as a verb, it's commonly used as an adjective or an adverb, so the author should have used a different verb form instead of a participle. Now, I don't think this author took an English fic and translated it badly in German - I think s/he either reads a lot of English fic or is imitating the style of other fanfic writers who read too much English. The result is incredibly awkward writing (I wonder if I sound like that when I write English - or if I'd sound like that if I wrote German prose.)

ETA: I finally understand why having the Doctor (or the Master) use cuss words is WRONG. All it takes is one instance of German cursing to make me see the light.

ETA2: Also, where English has "you" as a form of adress, German has "Sie" (polite, respectful, distanced) and "du" (close, intimate, informal). Neither "Sie" nor "du" sounds right for people adressing the Doctor.

ETA3: Have found German LJ com called [livejournal.com profile] das_fandom. I find this more amusing than I should.
bagheera_san: (OMG)
I have a German linguistics essay/termpaper to write (about something related to writing, written language etc - the technical term is graphemics or graphematics) and stupidly I thought that writing about online fandom from a linguistic perspective would be a cool idea. There are three problems with this:

1) it has to be in German, about German fandom
2) no one has ever written anything about this - the closest I've got are linguistic studies of chat communication, email, blogging etc. - mostly in English
3) linguistics isn't exactly my strong suit and I have no idea what I'm doing

But the biggest problem is definitely German fandom. I haven't so much as dipped a foot into the German part of fandom since I was about 17 because I abandoned it as soon as I started to write exclusively in English. I'm almost tempted to write a story in German just to see if I still can. All German fanfiction sounds terrible to me. Is this because you're more sensitive to bad style in your own language, or because I'm not finding the good stories (since so far I've only discovered the German equivalent of fanfiction.net) or because there's something wrong with non-English fandom in general? Fanfiction is largely anglophone, and English is where its stylistic conventions have developed. I assume (but I don't know if this is true) that German online fandom started as a translation/imitation of anglophone online fandom (and to some extent maybe Japanese fandom), with people trying to do the same thing but in their native language and that might be the reason why some of it sounds awkward.

For example, German fanfic authors LOVE gerunds and participles (the -ing forms of verbs). However, gerunds are typical of English, and sound awkward if you translate them directly into German - usually, where English can use a simple gerund, German needs slightly longer and more complicated phrases.

An example from the summary of a D/M fic:
"Mit dem Master an seiner Seite reist der Doktor immer noch durch das Universum, Welten entdeckend, besch├╝tzend, rettend."

The part in italics could be translated as "discovering, protecting and saving worlds". In English those three gerunds/participles sound perfectly okay and they fulfil the function of verbs (you could also say "they discover, protect and save worlds"). In German, a participle can't really function as a verb, it's commonly used as an adjective or an adverb, so the author should have used a different verb form instead of a participle. Now, I don't think this author took an English fic and translated it badly in German - I think s/he either reads a lot of English fic or is imitating the style of other fanfic writers who read too much English. The result is incredibly awkward writing (I wonder if I sound like that when I write English - or if I'd sound like that if I wrote German prose.)

ETA: I finally understand why having the Doctor (or the Master) use cuss words is WRONG. All it takes is one instance of German cursing to make me see the light.

ETA2: Also, where English has "you" as a form of adress, German has "Sie" (polite, respectful, distanced) and "du" (close, intimate, informal). Neither "Sie" nor "du" sounds right for people adressing the Doctor.

ETA3: Have found German LJ com called [livejournal.com profile] das_fandom. I find this more amusing than I should.

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