“What is the lesson you draw from your own existence?”
This is the philosophy that Proust teaches us. Last year, the French magazine La Revue des Deux Mondes published an interview with Daniel Mendelsohn about his experiences reading Proust as part of a special issue on “Proust vu d’Amérique.” Translated from the French by Anna Heyward. [more inside]
“Je Suis La Jeune Fille.” “Yes, that’s French they’re speaking. But no, these children aren’t French – they’re American!”
If you grew up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, or watched children's TV programming from that era in the US or UK, no doubt you saw that commercial for Muzzy (formally titled Muzzy in Gondoland
). The show was first produced by the BBC in 1986 to teach English as a second language, as seen in this playlist of five videos
, and later expanded with Muzzy Comes Back
in 1989 (six episode playlist
). The shows were both translated in to French
(and the Spanish vocabulary builder
), and Italian
(Muzzy in Gondoland, Muzzy Comes Back
Visualize a comic book, in your language, and imagine what would be written in the text balloon coming from the mouth of an animal. Now translate it. Derek Abbott
of The University of Adelaide (previously
) has compiled "the world’s biggest multilingual list" of animal sounds, commands, and pet names.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has spent the last few months in Paris specifically studying French. His latest dispatch, "Or Perhaps You Are Too Stupid to Learn French
," looks at how hard it is to apply the rules of new language in real time, while fighting with one's perceptions and limitations (Other dispatches are here
Washington Post writer Jay Matthews asks if learning a foreign language is worth it
and recounts his own struggles studying Chinese
. Another WaPo writer, Elizabeth Chang, recalls her experience in learning Arabic
Many languages have "high" and "low" layers of vocabulary. But in most other languages, the two sets are drawn from the same source. By contrast, contact between Old English and French, Dravidian languages and Sanskrit, Japanese and Chinese, Persian and Arabic, and other pairings around the world have created fascinatingly hybrid languages. These mixed lexicons are, for linguistic and social historians, akin to the layers of fossils that teach paleontologists and archaeologists so much about eras gone by.
Some people even think English is descended from Latin, or Kannada from Sanskrit. That’s frustrating not only because it’s wrong, but also because the reality is far more interesting.
- The Economist, Unlikely parallels
"The internationalized art world relies on a unique language. Its purest articulation is found in the digital press release. This language has everything to do with English, but it is emphatically not English. It is largely an export of the Anglophone world and can thank the global dominance of English for its current reach. But what really matters for this language—what ultimately makes it a language—is the pointed distance from English that it has always cultivated. " - Triple Canopy magazine on why do artists' statments and press releases sound so utterly odd and confusing.
Y est-ce deux dés?
(not exactly what it says on the tin) [more inside]
While Quebec’s status as the only primarily French-speaking province in Canada has resulted in a distinct cultural industry—particularly with regard to film and music—the province still enjoys many cultural products from English Canada. While movies and TV shows are often subtitled or dubbed into French, it is rare that the same is true of music. A notable exception is the music of Toronto-based Big Sugar
. [more inside]
In 1989, invited to an open air theatre
, late at night, I first experienced
the 6 hour long
screening of Peter Brook
's Mahabharata, a much
epic which includes the complete Bhagavad Gita as a central part
of its narrative. Brook's multiracial casting
and innovative treatment received criticism
impact has been
acknowledged anyone who sat
through the 9 hour play, the 6 hour TV serialization or only the
3 hour DVD. [more inside]
Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films
distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing
Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International
, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully
re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree
(while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention
The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic
gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog
, debuted in more than forty tongues
Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes
and one-line comparisons
, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights:
"One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali,"
and "A Whole New World"
) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata,"
(The Lion King
) - "Under the Sea"
and "Poor Unfortunate Souls"
(The Little Mermaid
) - "Belle"
and "Be Our Guest"
(Beauty and the Beast
) - "Just Around the Riverbend"
) - "One Song"
) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo"
) - Medley
) - "When She Loved Me"
(Toy Story 2
) - Intro
The next day, Sunday, I spent almost nine hours immersed in Robert Lepage’s marathon play, Lipsynch, at the Bluma Appel Theatre, which was part of Luminato. You tell people you’ve just spent nine hours watching a play conducted in four languages (with projected sur-titles) and they think you’ve undergone an endurance test, made a heroic sacrifice for art. On the contrary. There was no suffering(5 minutes of [enthusiastic] standing and clapping)
. The time flew by. It was like taking your brain on a luxurious cruise. Or spending the day in an art spa, basking in mind massages and sensory wraps. Maybe it was high art but the ascent was effortless: because Lepage did all the work for you, it was experienced as pure entertainment. [more inside]
Twenty-four different accents
in just over eight minutes. (NSFW SLYT
The Canadian Government’s Translation Bureau
recently made its French/English/Spanish technical terminology database, Termium
, free to access after over a decade as a subscription-based service. While off-the-cuff translations are often available from free services like BabelFish
, Termium focuses on technical terminology such as scientific, medical and legal terms. [more inside]
Since 1980, the Celtic Media Festival
has brought together people who broadcast, and now Webcast, in Celtic languages. Videoblog Gwagenn.TV provides a report (with autoplaying video)
from the 2009 festival whose clips and interviews are spoken and subtitled variously in Breton, French, English, Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish, Catalan, and Basque, not all of which are actually Celtic. [more inside]
A tale of two countries
Some time ago, the french & German tv channel Arte
had created an internet extension devoted to audio only, Arteradio
. This website contains hours of audio creations. This is the place where you can listen to The first radio drama /la première fiction radio /in two languages and one version /en deux langues et une seule version /a BBC-ARTE Radio coproduction /enregistrée à Paris et London /recorded on location /diffusée en hertzien /broadcasted on BBC Radio 4 on February, 4th, 2009 /online on arteradio.com.
You can also listen to McKenzie Wark
, or to the moment of silence
created on September the eleventh 2002, to Steve
, to English pupils in Paris
, to Susan George
, to Dean Hurley
commenting his work, and then dive into the complete unknown, and pure French sounds, like these
testimonies about masturbation, or about la chanson
, like a Paris postcard
, or even a street
Sans without French. Imagine Think of
a world of English without any French
, including linguistic. Some beautiful folks at the Christian
Monitor have done just that.
The English have landed!
In the spirit of international confederation, Nerve.com offers this all too brief list of common curses, epithets, and scandalous phrases, along with their French counterpart, and more interestingly, a transliteration of the French so one can better understand the Idiom.
blimey charlie the french are getting right hot
under the collar. There is growing indignation in france at the creeping use of the english language. Well now it seems that the EU, with an impeccable track record of supporting the french is suddenly ruffling a few feathers.
October Coffee Crisis.
Montreal Gazette: "In its communiques, the BAF warned that Second Cup franchises were to be 'in the line of fire' and warned of an escalation of violent acts if Second Cup and other chains insist on keeping their trademark English names." More Trudeau nostalgia?