Foreign Language in Fanfiction

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Title: Foreign Language in Fanfiction
Creator: Lelia Mellini
Date(s): January 15, 2001
Medium: online
Topic: Fanfiction
External Links: Foreign Language in Fanfiction/WebCite
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Foreign Language in Fanfiction is an essay by Lelia Mellini.

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.


  • A character’s speech is written in dialect or accent.
  • Insertion of foreign words.
  • Dialogue in a foreign language.
  • Transposing names.
  • Using foreign honorifics.


This is meant to be a manual for fanfiction writers. It is my opinion only, formed over six years of reading fanfiction.

I speak two languages at native fluency. This gives me an additional perspective when reading fanfic interspersed with foreign language vocabulary, and what I see tends to be rather awful. I am aware that professional writers to the same thing occasionally and it annoys me from them as well. Note, though, that I said occasionally. There are fanfic writers out there whose every story is steeped in French or German. Some of these writers are excellent and I enjoy their stories very much. But their use of foreign language drives me up the wall.

Most members of the fanfiction community are native English speakers, and the Americans among them have most likely never learned another language to any degree of fluency. This makes for a lot of fun playing around with what they remember from high school. So it’s understandable. It doesn’t excuse it, though.

This unskilled use of foreign language detracts seriously from my enjoyment of the stories, especially when the writer doesn’t know what she’s doing. What follows is a list of the worst sins and exceptions.