Some publications from all over the world are publishing texts that mix their native language with a foreign one, specially to cater to younger generations. In this article, we’ll look at how we can edit or write these texts better.
What is a text with heterogeneous language?
Heterogeneous means something with more than one kind. In this case, the language that we use in texts with heterogeneous language combines two languages. From my experience, these are the texts that include the local language and the English language. For example, some combinations are Filipino and English, Korean and English, Japanese and English, and many more.
Who uses this heterogeneous language? Why do they use it?
Go to your social media channels and look at the comments section. See how different users write their comments. Or browse through your list of followers and online friends. See how they write their captions. Most of the people using this language come from the younger generations, including but not limited to Gen Z and the Millennial generation.
Different factors affect language, and certain languages appear or disappear for many reasons. But one thing is for sure: language is a means of communication, and if we examine the latter closely, we see that using heterogeneous language is how others communicate naturally.
Why does it matter to me as an editor or a writer?
To get our message across to our readers, we need to connect with them appropriately. This doesn’t mean that we’re only going to use heterogeneous language to connect with this kind of audience. All I am saying is that understanding a material (say, a book or an article) would be better for me if it were written in the language that I use to normally talk with other people.
How can I edit these texts?
Texts using heterogeneous language tend to be specialized writing. They need ample research and are certainly not a one-person job because they are a combination of techniques used in your native language plus those used in the English language.
Here are some tips to get you started in editing these texts.
First, you must research your locale. Different languages will have different ways of forming words with the English language. Therefore, starting with your local language and another one you are familiar with (e.g., English) can help make it easier for you to edit or write these texts.
Build your stylebook with a team of researchers. Examine how your intended audience use certain phrases, words, or sentences to combine with English. To do so, start from where your audience are at.
Second, you must practice social listening. What does being where your audience are at mean? It is where you can find them. To edit and write in this language, I would browse plenty of social media. I would see how other brands use these texts in their promotional materials and check on the comments on these posts. This way, you see organic examples and reflect on how you can edit your own book, article, or captions.
Third, let the audience have a look at it. Editors of some organizations also have specialists who look at the text to provide feedback on the readability or technical aspects of the text. So, in this sense, why don’t we let our target audience review the texts that we are editing? It doesn’t have to be a fancy team; you can ask your niece or your son, or someone you know who is within the target audience.
It is important to note that texts with heterogenous language may or may not be established in your local community. But it is a reality in some countries, and editors and writers are incorporating it in their texts or reading materials. The challenge lies on making an editing system that can help improve how these texts are edited and written, so that they may appear as natural and easy-to-comprehend as possible.
Patricia Mae M. Estenoso has had a professional career in writing and editing for eight years and counting. She used to be a content writer/researcher, magazine/translation editor, and college instructor in the Philippines. She was also the former Editor-in-Chief of Arcadia in Istanbul, Turkey. Currently, she is a full-time creative copywriter at CXO Strategies Middle East in Dubai, United Arab Emirates focusing on B2B content writing and editing.