Is Language a barrier in Writing?

One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.
‒Frank Smith

This is something which has been one of the main worries of the amateur writers or those who want to kick off their writing journey that if their writings are not technically correct, nobody would be interested in reading them. And, unfortunately, that is true to an extent. Yes, technicalities do matter; technicalities are considered while somebody (I do consider) goes through your writing. Won’t your taste spoil quite a lot bit if, while savoring a tasty dish, you chew a tiny raw piece of garlic (those who like garlic, please substitute it with an item you can’t stand) accidentally? Same happens on stumbling upon a technical error in a beautiful story.
In fact, most of the people who contacted me, emailed me to talk about their writing- their worry, too, was of the technical gaps and oh! the language barrier.

As I myself write only in English language, I can vouch only for English. And as fiction is what I mostly write and read, in the above lines- “work” and “writings” refer mostly to fiction only.

English not being my first language (which is Hindi, by the way, as I’m from India) I had to learn it. But in my case, I’ve always loved the English language- it has always fascinated me, right since my childhood, and it still hasn’t stopped doing so. How I used to (and still) love solving Grammar sections- that is the true love you could have witnessed. And if you love doing something, it no longer stays a subject to be learnt, but to be enjoyed and never getting bored of.

But, unlike me, not many have that inclination towards language (English,) while many aren’t given the opportunity to learn it. Hindi, being the most-spoken language in India, is the one we, natives, are comfortable with. Many states in India don’t even emphasize on the importance of English. Why only English to be emphasized upon and not any other language say, French, German, or Spanish? Because of the obvious reason of English being the most-widely spoken language worldwide.

Well, returning back to the question of language being a barrier. No, it’s not a barrier. It can be a barrier (in the initial phase) though if the language you want to write in is the one you’re not well-versed with.

Writing has never asked you to use one specific language; writing needs dedication; writing needs passion; writing needs heart. If you have the latter three, you’re good to go.


You may start with writing in Hindi, or any other language you’re comfortable with. (But remember, every language has its own technicalities. Be cautious of not neglecting them.) The only drawback, which I’ve realized till now, is the lesser amount of eyes that would go through your work. I myself prefer reading English work, and sometimes Hindi too; rest even if I want to I cannot because of the language barrier.

In India itself, work of so many authors is translated into various languages; many French, Italian, Swedish works have been translated into English. But that would happen only after you’ve established yourself, which, in most probable cases, is a long-term goal.

Anyhow, once you’ve gotten yourself into writing, a wise decision need to be taken. What is that? To get yourself versed with English language. Why only English? Again, because of it being the language which is spoken, understood and taught worldwide. Learning it would provide you with the larger platform for your work, your writings, your stories.

If not a cakewalk, it neither is the most difficult task to learn a language’s technicalities, especially English (this might be ironic as English is the language, that even after years, keeps on surprising me with its newness every now and then.)

“In the English language there are orphans and widows, but there is no word for the parents who lose a child.”
― Jodi Picoult

I didn’t even know this until recently.

You’ve to dedicate yourself on a regular basis to the job. Thousands of books, and zillions of tutorials floating around on Internet are at your service.

You’d not become a Grammar-Nazi (nobody ever is) only after a few lessons. There probably wouldn’t be even a single error-free line in the initial phase. But don’t let your mistakes stop you either; as only your mistakes will let you know of your pitfalls and the areas of improvement. Nobody promised you (and if somebody has- it’s time for you to head to a real teacher) that you’ll learn everything and be perfect in a month’s sessions or two. It’ll take time, a lot of it.

But don’t wait to get started with writing after having learnt English. That way you’re preparing yourself to become an English-Grammar teacher, not a writer.

Writer needs to write with a heart (and we all have one. Don’t we?); brain does its job later. Get accustomed to writing first, and then move on to the task of learning to write in your preferred language. Get started with whatever language you’re comfortable in. Because technicalities can be learned, but writing- it is something you already have got in yourself. No money, no miracle can put it in you. It’s just the matter of time you realize that- the craving of telling stories- and put it onto paper.

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
-Sylvia Plath

Ah! So True.

Learning would (should) never be stopped; it’s a never-ending process.  I’m still learning, and I’m sure most of you are too.

How do you feel about it?- The relation between Writing and Language. Do share your views.


No credit for the Image used
Copyright © 2017 by Idle Muser. All rights reserved.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. arsenios says:

    . !


    1. Idle Muser says:

      Did you want to say something?


  2. ghostwriter says:

    A very interesting post ; sth to think about ..loved it! I agree with you completely “Writer needs to write with a heart, brain does its job later”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Thank you so much!☺️
      It always feels good if the person reading your write-up could resonate with it in any way.


  3. Hi Aditi! Write in the language of your heart and you will never go wrong. I think for the city bred Indians English comes naturally though it may not be their mother tongue. I too am more comfortable writing in English. But do occasionally dabble in Hindi poetry too. !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Hi Radhika! Thank you so much for sharing your views.😃
      I so agree with you. For some English comes naturally, while for some it doesn’t. But there always is a way to learn the language, if you really want to. It’s all about one’s preference and the comfort level; writing never asked anyone to be written only in English, or only in Hindi, or only in Spanish, and that is one of the perks I am glad about of writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My mother tongue is Slovene but English has always been the language that I prefer and find easier to express myself in. I write and read in English only.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      So is the case with me, Kris. (Only that my mother tongue is Hindi.😄)
      Anyway, it’s not about language you like, but the language you are writing in or want to write in, how good the grasp you have of it. Not that one language is better than the other; only that one might have a larger audience than the other.

      PS- I do remember one of your articles in which you had ranted about how people expect one to write in one’s own native language/mother tongue. (From there I got to know that English isn’t your first language.) Even that is also a topic I might write about some day; as such expectations of people are highly unreasonable.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. lilaiamoreliwordsaresacred says:

    Hello! Interesting thoughts. No, language is not a barrier in that sense. Writers make language a barrier when they are not willing to learn it, when they are not willing to study it in order to become better in their craft. I’ve often heard beginner writers chant the same old tune, ”it’s the story that matters, not the writing.” I’ve always laughed at the naiveté of such a statement.

    Writing, first and foremost, is about communication. If we want our readers to get immersed in our stories, we must strive for precision and clarity in our writing. Writing is about getting across a message. If the message is badly written because the syntax and grammar are poor, then the reader won’t rack his/her brain about it. He/she will simply move on to the next book. And who can blame him/her? It’s the writer’s job to learn the language in which he/she is writing. That’s a skill that requires time. All writers who are serious about their craft should work hard to acquire that skill.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Ah! What a pleasure it was reading your views. Thank you so much for sharing them.😃
      And I couldn’t agree more with any of your statement and argument. If not for language what is writing? If you are not clear with language, how can you translate it into an effective piece of writing?
      Once a person has successfully gotten rid of his/her inhibitions (related to language or whatever) it’s time to focus on what initially was sidelined- language, of course. Honing the language one is writing in is as important as the intensity of a story. Both walk hand in hand; there’s no other way out.


  6. Hey!
    I agree with your thought that language is not a barrier when it comes to writing. My inspiration and a very prominent poet Pablo Neruda was a Chilean and his work has been beautifully translated all over the world in various languages. I have savoured his books in English only.
    So, I sincerely believe you need to write down your emotions in whatever language you are comfortable with and if it’s a hit or beautiful, you do not have to worry about the barriers as it will be automatcally all over the world.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Idle Muser says:

      Thank you for sharing your views on this much delicate topic.🙂 For me such a topic is delicate as many, that I know, couldn’t even get into writing due to their own inhibitions that they had created with respect to language.
      Writing fiction, foremost, is about heart, about views. And then a language. But I nowhere want to downsize the importance of language. After a certain period of time if you aren’t learning, aren’t growing in the language you want to write in, time would make it difficult for you to survive in the writing world (or publishing world, if that is what we call it.) And, as I said in my article too, it’s a personal choice to opt for English as the language you want to write in. Or if you want, you may write in Hindi, or Marathi, or French, or Chilean for ever. But one should keep the technicalities of these languages in mind as well; after all, every language has its own syntax and semantics which are meant to be followed.😉


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