In the first post, I discussed reasons for using an alien language in a science-fiction or fantasy story as well as what others have said about the practice. I used the language of Klingon for several examples. In the second post, I got out the ol' grammar book and deconstructed the nature of language itself. At a minimum all languages need a few classes of words as well as a few rules to guide the construction of communication, no matter what the actual words are.
In this post I will use examples from The Dream Land trilogy to illustrate how alien languages can be used without becoming tedious to readers. (At least, I think what I've done is not tedious to readers.)
In The Dream Land (Book I: Long Distance Voyager), our hero, Sebastian Talbot (who has adopted the native name of Set-d'Elous) sets up shop in a city near a vast field of buried gemstones in order to mine them. He meets his neighbor, the golden haired Zaura-Matouszs, who reminds him too much of his long-lost high school sweetheart, Gina Parton.
In these two excerpts we can follow the protagonist as he encounters someone (the "alien" woman) speaking her native language.
In the first excerpt, the reason is simple: the protagonist doesn't know what she is saying yet he hears the words. Writing out the alien language is a way to introduce the setting: a world where he doesn't understand the language. The paraphrase which follows offers a translation but does so in a non-intrusive manner--as part of the protagonist's "figuring it out."
In the second excerpt, the use is more obvious and potentially distracting. And yet, it works to develop the protagonist's growing fluency--which will become important as the story proceeds. He needs to become fluent in order to be able to function fully in later adventures, of course. By juxtaposing the Ghoupallean phrases with the English equivalents we also can get a sense of the way the natives think, their customs, and what constitutes polite speech.
Granted, some readers may still find it unnecessary or intrusive. I continue to believe a little use is not only permissible but does add to the texture of the story. The right place, for the right reason, and in the right portion is essential to getting away with this device!
Using an alien language in a more extensive dialog can be tricky, but the same reasons for use apply: texture, clarity, strangeness. Take this example, where our hero, Set-d'Elous asks a pair of old Zetin women where his wife and infant daughter have gone:
In closing, I'll leave my dear, patient bloggites with this thought, cleverly written in Romanized Danid: Kai tašiom xes, xet gel-ymazk.