Language Observation

I haven’t published anything in Spanish for at least 4 years. But it’s still a lot easier for me to write in Spanish. I sat down yesterday at nine am and wrote 800 words in a little over 3 hours. In English, it would take 4 days of work to do that. And it would still need a bunch of editing.

The reason is that long, wordy, bombastic sentences are normal to me. They transmit how I think because they are very similar to what’s considered a good writing style in Russian. As a writer, I feel more at home in Spanish even though my vocabulary is a lot more limited than in English. Even when I speak my own language, I use very long sentences with several subordinate clauses.


4 thoughts on “Language Observation”

  1. I have nothing against long sentences in the hands of someone who can wield them with clarity and flair. The problem is that most people end up producing jumbled word piles with no discernible meaning. One also has to be an expert user of punctuation — again, something that most aren’t — if they endeavor to communicate by using long sentences with many subordinate clauses.

    I think short, clear, and to the point is good advice for most people, because most people can’t handle anything else without a complete breakdown in communication.

    However, those who aren’t most people might create pure magic through unconstrained writing.


  2. The problem is the lack of endings in English combined with the way that clauses often melt into each other. Both of these features together are a recipe for ambiguity. So the longer the sentence the greater the danger that the writer will create something that they understand but that others will have trouble deciphering…
    Languages with more inflection like Spanish or Russian also tend to keep boundaries between clauses clear, this means that it’s possible to write super long sentences that have a basically clear structure. I remember one translation I had in which a single Polish sentence was over half a page long (and yet was pretty easy to read). My English translation was probably half a dozen sentences (with some signposting) because there was no way to keep it a single sentence and have it make any sense.
    Languages with lots of endings can also create confusion but it’s a different type of confusion…


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