Jump to content

How to have a character that speaks Broken English?

Recommended Posts

I guess it's pretty easy to sort of get into your character and purposely make some grammatical errors etc. The issue here is that a lot of foreign players use the "character barely speaking English" thing in order to cover their own lack of grammatical knowledge, spelling etc. & that's honestly where the issue arises. Another issue is the fact that if your character doesn't speak the language at all, they most likely wouldn't be residing in the US legally, which also is misportrayed a lot; you've people roleplaying that their characters don't speak English at all yet they're never bothered with the immigration laws and regulations. Good to keep that in mind as well.

Link to comment

It's a hard balance. I think I portray it fairly well with Rafi, but since i've been on Rafi his English would naturally improve. In high stress situations or around other non English speakers I will make Rafi's English worse than it is when he's hanging out with American people for example.

Another good thing to do is to use the occasional older and more obscure words. Like words your character might have learnt from an old textbook in school that aren't really common in main stream language so much anymore. 

Another thing that Habeeb does is obviously say mens and womans, and pluralizes a lot of words. This has actually become a very bad habit when I type even off of GTA World where I will be texting on whatsapp IRL and before I know it i'm saying "no mens i'm not knowings this one". It's embarrassing irl 😞

I think most importantly is don't over do it. I've had people I have RP'd with in the past try to make characters from Syria too who don't speak English and they've gone around calling Mirror Park "refelctive park" or something silly. 

Link to comment

Familiarize yourself with the character's mothertongue, for example see some examples of normal everyday phrases in Brazilian and look at how the language is structured.


Translate these phrases literally through Google translate and use that to your advantage. Also just look up videos of brazilians with broken english.


As a spaniard myself, with Brazilian/Portuguese being a close relative, some examples I can think of are:


- Tending to use the infinitive of verbs. Not always, but often: "Tomorrow I am at the club"


- Trouble mixing "I" and "me": "Me go to the house yesterday" could be "I went home yesterday".


- Phrases like "Do you...?" might lose the auxiliary verb: "You want some food?" rather than "Do you want some food?"


- To/for are mistaken often: "I use this for wash my car".


- Ask your conversation partner for the name of things you have forgotten: "Where is the... you know, for aspirate the floor?" ("Where is the hoover?")


Just don't overdo it. These are some examples off the top of my head, but explore the language and see what you can come up with.


Edited by Koko
  • Upvote 1
Link to comment

Think of it this way. As an English speaker, how would you speak to someone in a foreign language that you're unaware of? You'd learn basic words, but wouldn't be able to string sentences properly.

"You Good" = "You are good."

"I need money" = "Money" or "Me money"

"I need to use the washroom" = "Washroom?"

"How much money will I be paid, today?" = "You pay me? Number?" 

"I need a ride to Vespucci" - "Eh, me go Vespucci. Car? You [have] car?"

It all depends on whether your character is intelligible with the language, as-well. Not all migrants are ignorant of the English language while others arrive with zero understanding of the English language. If you're ignorant of the language? You'd learn more, as you develop. Your character would literally continuously repeat new phrases that he's learned to be able to master it, even while alone. You'd practice it with friends, regardless as to whether it sounds awkward or does not fit the theme of the discussion, for the simple sake of mastering it. If you learned a new word and you heard someone say that word? You'd probably say it with pride and happiness, with utter excitement, because you know that new word. I had a character that kept saying "Happy Thanksgiving", even after a week of eating a Thanks-Giving meal with locals, because he was amazed at how charitable people were... he also admired that it made people happy.

Edited by DLimit
Link to comment

Have it planted somewhere in your attributes but most importantly make sure your emotes are detailed and worded correctly, eliminates any doubt of you lacking the proper Engrish which you'll need as people will scrutinize you heavily if they see you using questionable wording IG.

  • Upvote 1
Link to comment

Just don't be stupid and take examples from other roleplayers. Research the ethnic/nationality you're gonna roleplay and kinda figure out from there. If you think you can't handle it, then there's no shame in just speaking properly in the IC chats.

Link to comment
  • Wuhtah locked this topic
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...