Gratuitous Dog Pic/ The Words

Gratuitous Dog Picture:
al restibg
This is Al taking a break during a Frisbee match.

I’ve been struggling with writing the ‘sailing’ parts of Book 3, mostly because:
1)I haven’t decided what type of yacht I have them sailing yet, and
2)Sailing has a lot of specific terminology, much of which I’ve forgotten since my sailing lessons of a few years ago.

In addition, I’m trying to think of terminology as how it would occur in Portuguese. OK, that’s a convoluted thought, but let me give you a couple of examples.

In English, a ship’s toilet is usually referred to as a head. This word isn’t used in Portuguese (although it does apply in terms of a sail…another usage of the word in English). That said, Marina can’t be confused over the toilet being referred to as the head because as far as I can tell, it’s referred to as a water closet in Portuguese.

In English, ships are often referred to as female. Not so in Portuguese, where ships are things, not generally anthropomorphized. I had to take this out of another story when I caught my main character referring to his ship as ‘she’…oops!

On top of this, there’s the whole set of sailing terms that I have to get right for English readers. Easy example: When you carry a rope onto a ship, it suddenly becomes a line. If you don’t call it a line, sailors will mock you. They know.

So I’m constantly debating terminology as I’m writing. Would a Portuguese person think/say that?

I know I’m going to get things wrong. I’m trying, but there are so many places for me to screw up…

(I’ve talked before about choosing to alter Portuguese naming conventions and I’m using Americanisms such as referring to the floor above the ground floor as the ‘second floor’, so I know I’m already far off base….)

2 thoughts on “Gratuitous Dog Pic/ The Words

  1. I don’t think I said it when you were at DFWcon, but I so, so admire your willingness to make yourself absolutely bananas in writing about a time and place for which you had zero prior experience. Hearing you speak about historical research and realizing how much digging you’ve done on the Porto of 100 years ago puts the fire in my veins: every time I hear somebody start in about “writing what you know”, I want to rise up and say, “YES, I WILL write what I know, because I am going to learn it so hard it will make your head spin!”

    Question, though, and forgive me if you’ve answered it elsewhere: what was it that originally inspired you to choose this particular setting?

    1. Thanks, Tex ;o)

      The story came before the setting for me, and the setting got picked to suit the story. I needed a coast where larger seals occasionally visited (but I didn’t want Ireland). I needed some variant on mermaids (Portuguese lore has ‘sereia’, or sirens). I needed a technology level about 1900 (because I had a large submersible in this story). I originally thought Venice would work, but I decided that it wasn’t quite right. So three or four paragraphs in, I switched to Portugal.

      Venice would have been easier. Honest…

      BTW, this started off as a novelette, so I never thought I would be spending -years- writing in this setting. But I really have enjoyed it!

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