Friday, February 04, 2011

Q and A - Aliette de Bodard

"MS: You probably get asked language questions all the time, but likely not by someone with a PhD in cognitive psychology / psycholinguistics or someone who teaches Klingon, so I hope you’ll indulge me. If memory serves, French is your native language. How is it you find yourself writing fiction in English? What’s the appeal? What are the drawbacks? And how does your background in Vietnamese (I’m assuming you have some knowledge of that language as well) color these issues for you?

AdB: No, that’s probably the first time I’ve been asked this by a psycholinguist! I started writing fiction in English because it was the language in which I started reading science fiction. I’d made some brief forays into speculative literature in French (especially Asimov and Patricia McKillip, who are pretty much polar opposites in terms of genre), but the bulk of my SF reading was done in English, while my family lived in London–so English was a fairly natural choice to start writing. The appeal is both the wider audience (English SF is still pretty dominant in the field), and the very different approach I can have to English as a foreign language: because I learnt the language fairly late, I don’t feel hemmed in by too many usage or grammar rules–I feel much freer, much more able to take the words and play with them. Drawbacks are mainly connotations and idioms: I don’t use English outside of writing, which means that realistic dialogue, in particular, is hard for me to put together–and extra harder to nuance."

3.5 out of 5