Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

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chuckt
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Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby chuckt » Fri Dec 27, 2019 10:10 am

Anyone know how to get some of the "pinyin" characters in Word? Some of them are there and some are not. All the usual Western accented letters are in the drop-down for special characters but I don't see some of the Asian ones used in pinyin.

And what do editors want to see in your submission when you have some foreign words that are accented? Do they want it done?

And some places want plain text or rtf. What do you do then? (I assume it doesn't convert over but maybe it does).

Note: I knew nothing about pinyin two days ago so if I am misapprehending something, please let me know. wotf007
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby Andy Dibble » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:15 am

I had to work through some of these questions for my story that will be in v36. I would be careful about using weird diacritics at all because they will often confuse readers. I think it's best to just spell things phonetically unless your story actually turns on the diacritics in some way or a character needs to appear academic. In my bio for v36, I have a weird diacritical mark and when it got edited by people at Galaxy Press, the character got lost entirely! So that's another risk.

You absolutely should italicize words in other languages unless they are loan words in English. That's just good grammar. (I can imagine some exceptions, e.g. words on a sign or something and you don't want to give the impression that the text on the sign is italicized. Or if you are talking about the foreign language concept as a proper noun e.g. "The Buddhist Dharma")

A good example of the foreign word vs. loan word distinction is karma vs. dharma. Both are originally Sanskrit words but karma has been appropriated (loaned) by English so you would not italicize. Dharma, while understood by a minority of English speakers, doesn't have enough of a life in English, so it is italicized.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby RSchibler » Sat Dec 28, 2019 6:14 am

Interesting, Andy. When I wrote a historical fiction, I decided against italicizing the Latin words in the text because I felt like it gave the story an overly academic and distracting vibe. (About to start querying with it, so the jury is out on whether that worked or not). I have seen it done both ways in published works. I can make an argument that in a historical fiction, the English words are the loan words and the Latin/other languages are the actual language of the character, but it's early and that makes my head hurt. Point being, I guess I feel like italicizing words from other languages would damage the immersion of the piece. Thoughts?
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby Andy Dibble » Sat Dec 28, 2019 4:28 pm

RSchibler wrote:I have seen it done both ways in published works. I can make an argument that in a historical fiction, the English words are the loan words and the Latin/other languages are the actual language of the character, but it's early and that makes my head hurt. Point being, I guess I feel like italicizing words from other languages would damage the immersion of the piece?


I guess "italicize other-language words" is like every other rule of writing: know the rule well enough, then you can know when to break it.

You make a good point about the perspective of a character impacting which words are other-language (although not which words are *loan* words: whether or not a word is a loan word has to do with the historical development and mingling of languages, not the perspective of a character, unless your character is in a world where languages evolved differently). Although I'd be careful about refraining from italicizing even in this case because your story is still in English and the thoughts of your character are in English, even if the English is meant to give the sense of another language. If you fail to italicize, some readers will be put off because it's bad grammar to not italicize. I suspect that fraction of readers is larger than the fraction that would be put off if you italicized the other-language words of a character that speaks another language. Why? Because not so many readers will think of your clever argument about other-language words not being another language from the perspective of the character. And even if they do, they will understand if you do italicize because the imperative to be grammatical is so commanding.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby disgruntledpeony » Sat Dec 28, 2019 5:43 pm

I've seen stories that italicize and stories that don't. There are probably a number of factors in play, at least one being editorial preference.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby AlexH » Sun Dec 29, 2019 2:05 pm

Sometimes I find italicised words off-putting when they're frequent. I didn't realise this was a rule, as I see stories that italicise and others that don't.

I've written a story (in English) that has Arabic speakers but haven't italicised any words from Arabic (e.g. kaftan, dirham, souk). They're all in the Cambridge English Dictionary, so I guess I'm okay.

The problem with using different characters in a manuscript is the character set may not be installed on other computers. In that case, PDF is a suitable format for submitting (if acceptable to the editor/market) to ensure the characters appear as intended.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby reigheena » Tue Dec 31, 2019 6:56 am

Many bilingual authors are actually pushing back against the italicizing of foreign words such as Daniel Jose Older. Their reasoning is they don't want the foreign languages to be othered. They want it to feel natural, like it would to the speaker. Others disagree, believing that the italics help with clarity - showing that the word is real and not madeup.

I personally side with the non-italics group.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby disgruntledpeony » Tue Dec 31, 2019 7:09 am

reigheena wrote:Many bilingual authors are actually pushing back against the italicizing of foreign words such as Daniel Jose Older. Their reasoning is they don't want the foreign languages to be othered. They want it to feel natural, like it would to the speaker. Others disagree, believing that the italics help with clarity - showing that the word is real and not madeup.

I personally side with the non-italics group.

Those are both good arguments. Older's, especially, made me think. It's not like I italicize non-standard words/names for things when I'm writing about a made-up world, so why would I need to do it for a foreign language? (There are also situations where it might be helpful to italicize, depending on context, but overall I'd be more likely to aim for non-italics at this point.)
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby officer » Tue Dec 31, 2019 11:47 am

For fiction, I decided I would not italicize any words (foreign or contrived) that all characters would know. If a character uses foreign words that not everyone in the scene understands, I italicize them. Otherwise, I agree with many of you: it feels more authentic to leave them. If the characters wouldn't consider them foreign, then they're not foreign in my setting.

I doubt an editor would judge the piece on italics use unless it was overwhelming or inconsistent.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby LoyalRam » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:24 pm

I am fascinated by slang from the late Victorian and Edwardian ages, and I use a small amount of it for flavor. Yet, I've decided to attempt to speak consistently in that type of language is distracting and confusing to the reader. Just my opinion.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby morganb » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:34 am

The only time I put words in italics are when 1) I want to distinguish an internal thought, or 2) I want the word to be spoken (dialogue) with an emphasis on the word (ie. I want the reader to hear the word being emphasized for some reason). That's pretty much the only time I do it.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby Lazarus » Sat Jan 18, 2020 1:08 am

I only italicize “foreign language” words if the speakers accent changes.

Many times, Bilingual people will switch accents with words that are specific to that language and without an english equivalent, but if there is, they may just use whatever english-accent they have.

My friend calls a burrito and burrito but a cabrón a cabrón.

When using pinyin you should ALWAYS use your diacritics. Otherwise you are writing completely different words that are pronounced very differently.
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Re: Accents/Diacritics and Pinyin

Postby Andy Dibble » Tue Apr 21, 2020 1:15 am

I wish to recant my earlier position on italicizing foreign words when they are spoken or thought by the character that speaks the foreign language. I agree that doing so damages the immersion of the piece.
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