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Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:13 am
by DazzelThat
You guys seem to be the intellectual bunch, so I decided that I would ask for help. I know that Kurt obviously has a german accent, but I also know that you can only get so far into his character by writing some german words in ever sentence. What I'm asking is that I wonder if he has any subtle or non subtle differences in his speech. Whether or not it is a way to phrase sentences, or a different way he talks to himself.

If you are a writer and have a certain style of writing him, or even have a certain way you read his dialogue in the comics. I know this is more of a forum for discussion and I've looked through some other posts. I would be happy to get any help.

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:25 am
by fourpawsonthefloor
I know that I've been in discussions about this before and it often comes up split to some account. My two cents is that I prefer to read people who have accents due to another language being their first language. Sprinkling the odd (but meaningful) German word in it flavours it. Conversely, however, I don't mind reading accents (within sane limits) on ones that are more regional, such as 'y'all' or 'wanker', etc.

If you do the biggest thing is to not overdo it. It gets too painful.

Best of luck!

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:35 am
by Slarti
Exactly what Paws said. Generally, you don't want to get too carried away with the accent because it's considered bad form to write phonetic accents. A few words here and there, and references to the character having an accent are generally preferred in professional writing.

I actually have an English degree, and work as a professional writer, albeit in journalism, so trust me. ;)

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Fri Jun 07, 2013 3:46 am
by Ult_Sm86
I'm going to take a third path here.

I like seeing the accent when multiple people are speaking in a dialogue. I think it's flavorful and enjoyable. Helps me break up the characters in my head with speech patterns. But every thing from actions of a character to facial expressions or word-choice can also indicate character so don't rely on accent. I believe in referencing the accent in something like a chat-based game because it's less obstructing to dialogue with other players, but in terms of a fic or story? I enjoy reading it.

There's not a lot of professional works that use accents (specifically German accents) in the dialogue, but the ones that do make a point to do it WELL.


"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain

"Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens

"Between the Bridge & the River" by Craig Ferguson

"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

So there's some examples of it being used in actual literature. I'm currently using Kurt's accent in my fic (plug, plug, plug) and I agree for the most part with Slarti. I suppose it can get... "offensive" (she didn't use offensive, I did. But I am surmising that's what she was getting at. My "B" if I am wrong.)

But don't go overboard. Listen to some German characters talk english in a movie/television on youtube. Or listen to Nightcrawler! A good example is right here. (I'm literally watching this episode on Netflix, RIGHT MEOW. What're the odds?)

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Sun Jun 09, 2013 2:33 pm
by Sundown
A smattering of German words is good. However, they should make sense and still be in regular usage. (NOT Liebchen! He is NOT a granny! The word is absolutely antiquated. Liebling isn't a good replacement as it is not a casual use word. It's an endearment with very strong meaning behind it to signify attachment; something you might call a long-time girlfriend or spouse.) Situational rule is good to use with this. If he has high emotion, is surprised, irritated or just out of it/he awakens abruptly, he might naturally revert back to his native language.

One thing for any character who has English as a second language is also the somewhat more formal or proper nature of their speech patterns and phrasings, at times. They may or may not use slang or conjunctions as freely as a native speaker. This has been done with Kurt a lot in the books over the years.

A very light phonetic accent is okay, in my opinion, but never over use it. Pick maybe one letter or sound that you replace with a phonetic and stick with it, otherwise it's WAY too much. That kind of goes with reader preference, too. I like it, if it's not over done, as it adds some flavour, but not everyone does.

It all really boils down to preference on how you WANT him to sound. My husband is a native German and has only a trace accent, because he's tried hard to rid himself of it living in English speaking countries. He does still intersperse German words often in his speech, though. My mother in law has an accent so heavy that she's difficult to understand, at times.

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:26 am
by Angelique
Professional editors I know tend to not favor phonetically writing out accents, and some even shy away from using regional dialects that the average Anglophone may have trouble understanding. Having had great difficulty understanding the works of Flannery O'Connor, I can understand that point of view.

I don't believe in doing away with all regional dialect, or in Kurt's case, the occassional code-switch back to German. But if you establish that a character is from a certain location and speaks with the characteristic accent, there should be no need to phonetically spell the accent. For example, while a character I write who is from Boston would not say something like, "Why did you abscond with the newspaper?" it could be painful to many readers to try to understand, "Watcha high-hoseying tha papah foah?" I think the best thing to do is to simply keep it in moderation.

And yes, I know I went way overboard with the German in a lot of my fanfic from way back when. I blame that on the fact that I'm not a romance writer and used German when writing the flirtatious banter between a German-speaking couple to help me work through my discomfort with writing love mush. I wouldn't dream of considering any of that of even remotely professional quality, though.

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:18 pm
by Ult_Sm86
Fortunately, fanfiction isn't professional.

The point is, as Sundown said, do what you feel comfortable with and have fun! :3 Writing a lot and making mistakes is how you get better, so make a decision, commit to it, and see how far it gets you.

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:17 am
by Wahnsinn
What Sundown said. :nodyes
My German hubby has never lived outside of his home country, and his accent when speaking English is quite muted. He occasionally turns a V into a W (e.g., "wacation"), but he pretty consistently nails everything else. Only when he's purposely using an exaggerated accent for comedic purposes does he sound like, say, Nightcrawler in X2. That's the kind of pronunciation you'll hear on a beginner or somebody who almost never speaks English. I heard a lot of that with my mom-in-law (Oh, how I miss her! :cry), and there were some words she just couldn't get her mouth around. She had learned some contractions, though.

Along with peppering his speech with German words, you could tailor his syntax a little. For example, there are a lot of sentences in which "that" is omitted in English, but it isn't lost in German:
"I can't believe you did that." => "I can't believe that you did that."

Re: Help in writing Nightcrawler's speech habits

Posted: Fri Nov 29, 2013 12:39 am
by Marijke Rose
I'd say, watch X-Men Evolution, because in that series, Nightcrawler has a bit of odd speech patterns that don't seem too overdone - least, far as I can tell.

Seems like, in my observations, from when Nightcrawler uses German in the comics, it's in a moment of surprise... for example "Was???". Or when he's deep in thought, or... if he's being flirty ("Fräulein"). Mostly, he tries to use English, and is pretty fluent.

What you could, perhaps, do, is occasionally change "can't" and other contractions, to "cannot", etc.. But, keep that to a minimum. How to show his accent in the written word.... no clue there. Perhaps he might occasionally 'mess up' and pronounce a "w" like a "v", so you could spell it with a "v"..

What I really agree with, is the person who said: Don't overdo it. Focus more on him, and his role in the story, rather than his 'accent'... keep it to a minimum.

(I haven't written any stories with Nightcrawler, but I do have german, or other non-english characters - and it's always a challenge of how to write their dialogue believably whilst still conveying the accent. I have a character who.. speaks a little odd, sometimes - mostly, his English is good, but his speech patterns can be weird sometimes, though mostly it's the character, his choice, his active decision to sound odd, though not always, and he does speak English fluently {though it's his second language}.)

I would think that Nightcrawler most likely wouldn't use too much German, and that his accent is probably not very thick. As someone said, avoid X2's Nightcrawler, as that was indeed overdone - and that's one I just don't get.

Aside from that, I can only totally agree with Sundown!

Though, to clarify, "Liebling" is pretty much translated as "beloved" or "most loved" or "dearest". A term of endearment. Nightcrawler would, likely, only say that to his lover, or *maybe* to his daughter (er, presuming you've read the comics, or at least read about his canon in the marvel universe - I could see him calling her "Liebling", but, as Sundown said, it's a very, very deep term of endearment - like "my Love".).