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How does Quentin Tarantino or any other screenwriter write dialog for a language he doesn't speak? I have never found any mention of Tarantino being able to speak in any language other than English.

In Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, Hans Landa speaks English, German, French, and Italian fluently. In fact, about a third of the film is non-English and is subtitled.

I have never heard anyone who speaks German, French, or Italian complaining that their language was written by a hack.

Is the language written in English first and then rewritten in the appropriate language? Or does he work with other writers as he is writing it? Did he learn the basics of other languages to write for those languages?

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My guess would be he writes the dialogue in English in the way he sees fit and then lets natives or experts (or maybe even the actors?) find the correct words for it. Fortunately the languages in your example are similar enough to not introduce too many problems with this process, I guess. Yet I'm completely unable to judge if e.g. The Passion or Apocalypto were well done. –  Napoleon Wilson Oct 28 '13 at 23:01
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The script of Inglourious Basterds is certainly written completely in English. –  Napoleon Wilson Oct 28 '13 at 23:11
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Maybe he uses Google Translate? I am sure he writes as suggested by @ChristianRau. –  Paulster2 Oct 29 '13 at 1:11
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@Paulster2 hahahhah....you made me laugh. –  Ankit Sharma Oct 29 '13 at 10:45

1 Answer 1

up vote 14 down vote accepted

It's simple, really. What most screenwriters do is to write the entire script in the same language (which, in the case of Hollywood movies, is English) and then when there's a piece of dialog that's supposed to be spoken in some other language, say, French, all you do is to tell the reader this by adding a parenthesis between the character's name and the dialog.

      VADER
  (in French)
Luke, I am your father...

The main reason for this is that there's a HUGE chance that the person who's going to read your script doesn't know that specific language. And even if the reader happens to know that specific language, it doesn't read as fast and as smooth as if the entire screenplay would've been written in the same language.

When realizing/learning that you don't actually have to know the language your characters are going to speak in the movie, some writers might get a bit carried away and throw some foreign language-skills in there just to spice things up a bit. This, of course, is not recommended as it could easily turn a great, dramatic moment into something, well... ridiculous... Just like the example above.

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Luke, je suis ton père.... –  Evik James Oct 29 '13 at 13:47
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non c'est impossible! –  System Down Oct 29 '13 at 14:35

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