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Gonzalo Jerez

The root of words

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Hello,

As you probably know, I am starting to write in English. I have written some short stories and, now, I am writing a drama in three acts (which maybe I will type into Creative writing forum). In Spanish, the words have usually many possible origins (that origins can be Greek, Latin or Arabian. A little part of it can be Celtiberians.), and... when I write in English, I can see that this language has words which have root in Greek, Latin or German words. I don´t know what is better. Do you recommend me the use of more words which have Latin, Greek or German root?

I hope I have expressed correctly my doubt.

Edited by Gonzalo Jerez

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Do you recommend me the use of more words which have Latin, Greek or German root?

If I understand your question, I would say that you should use both kinds of words in a play.

In everyday speech we mostly use short, German-root, words. In formal and intellectual speech we favor longer Latin-root and Greek-root words.

John

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Hi, John,

Thank you for your advice. I was mistaken. Before the reading of your response, I thought that I had to use more German-root words than Latin or Greek-root words. Now, I am preparing the plot, scenes, etc., of that drama.

Best premises,

Gonzalo

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I'd think that shorter, Anglo-Saxon words would be easier for an audience to follow. You might prefer longer classical derivatives for special effect, e.g. in order to make someone seem like a hard-to-understand obfuscator.

Try looking at some playwrights you like and see what they do. Noel Coward is my favorite. Tennessee Williams writes beautiful dialogue, whether you like his content or not.

Peter

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A suggestion is: first define your characters. Some people would be inclined to use more Latin based words than others. A medical doctor is likely to use long words that few other English speakers understand. Lawyers also have their own dialect. Someone who attended lessons at a university will use bigger words than someone who did not.

In every case, it is the writer's judgment on which words are more appropriate for this character.

A lawyer, in court: "The defendant has admitted culpability..."

The same lawyer, out of court: "Because the defendant admitted his guilt..."

The man on the street: "The guy said he was guilty."

The policeman: "I arrested him, and he confessed."

It's always hard to do that in a new language. This was one of Ayn Rand's strengths, that she could write masterfully in her second language, English. I am learning Dutch. It will be years before I consider myself qualified to write in Dutch.

Feel free to write me and ask for help in your writing. And good luck.

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It's always hard to do that in a new language. This was one of Ayn Rand's strengths, that she could write masterfully in her second language, English. I am learning Dutch. It will be years before I consider myself qualified to write in Dutch.

Nou, als je nog vragen hebt over het Nederlands kun je altijd bij mij terecht...

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It's always hard to do that in a new language. This was one of Ayn Rand's strengths, that she could write masterfully in her second language, English. I am learning Dutch. It will be years before I consider myself qualified to write in Dutch.

Nou, als je nog vragen hebt over het Nederlands kun je altijd bij mij terecht...

Smartypants! :laugh:

Well, I never think about the root of the words I speak or write, when I speak and write them. I think the language you will use in a play depends on the effect you wish to produce aesthetically, what language feels "true" to the characters you create, and the message you wish to convey with your play.

An earlier poster suggested Tennessee Williams as having written wonderful dialogue, and I would agree. What is the aim of your play? Is it gritty, ugly and realistic? If so, David Mamet comes to mind. His dialogue is far from beautiful, but it is very real. Is your play esoteric and cerebral and clever? Tom Stoppard is a great example (in fact, he wrote a wonderful play in which the study of the classical languages was a major focal point).

Good luck with your writing! Let us know how it works out for you!

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