“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.
Dr. Pierre Capretz, who taught French at Yale University for several decades, passed away at the age of 89
on April 1st of this year, qu'il repose en paix
. Capretz is best known for his 1987 PBS series of half-hour French-language lessons, French in Action
, which combined language immersion using to a simple romantic-comedy narrative followed by a classroom-style review, featuring Professeur Capretz, of the narrative with emphasis on the concepts, vocabulary, and grammar. [more inside]
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]
The Global Language Online Support System
(or GLOSS), produced by the Defense Language Institute in sunny Monterey, CA, offers over six thousand
free lessons in 38 languages from Albanian to Uzbek, with particular emphasis on Chinese, Persian, Russian, Korean, and various types of Arabic. The lessons include both reading and listening components and are refreshingly based on real local materials (news articles, radio segments, etc.) rather than generic templates. [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
At One Minute Languages
you can learn greetings, talking about names, counting, and more in Catalan
, and Russian
Are dictionaries the realm of the elite and the educated?
For a change of pace, there is an extensive dictionary of Russian swears
with hundreds of words translated into French
.. Oh and it's also two way - French swears
and German swears
are both translated into Russian. [More Inside]
French In Action is now available for free, online
. (click on the "VoD" link to the right of each episode; free registration required
) Long a staple of high school French classes and late-night PBS broadcasts, French In Action
is notable for teaching French without translating it; meaning is made clear through context and repetition. It's an approach some people find useless
and others consider "so excellent it almost justifies the invention of television
". If you'd rather learn Spanish, there's Destinos
and for German, there's Fokus Deutsch
--but neither one features Valérie Allain, subject of intense fascination
(and occasionally creepy obsession
.) ( Unfortunately, free streaming of French in Action doesn't seem to be available outside the US and Canada; Destinos and Fokus Deutsch have no such restrictions.
CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts,
"brings the wealth of Irish literary and historical culture to the Internet, for the use and benefit of everyone worldwide. It has a searchable online database consisting of contemporary and historical texts from many areas, including literature and the other arts." It has texts in Irish
, Anglo-Norman French
, and English
, ranging from the annals
of the fifth century to the Agreement reached in the Multi-Party Negotiations
in Northern Ireland of 1998. "Great my glory/ I that bore Cuchulainn the valiant
Are the days of French as a world language numbered?
The French language is still considered a "world language," but it is slowly losing its relevance in an English-dominated world. "What is at stake is the survival of our culture. It is a life or death matter," said Jacques Viot, head of the Alliance Francaise in Paris. Will French finally surrender to English?
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.
is what we say, but the french seem to have a different way of asking the same question.
Not Dubbing the Simpsons
The Office de la langue française and others are up in arms (ils capotent
) about anglicisms in Internet discourse. Business 2.0 talked about it
. Branchez-Vous writes a short, cutting article
, giving those who pepper their French with English enough rope to hang themselves. («Dans la catégorie "Un
mot français, un mot anglais et hop!," le prix revient à Rational Software France, the e-development company, qui a annoncé la nomination d'André Arich au poste de Partner Manager pour sa filiale française, ainsi que le lancement en France du programme de partenariat Rational Unified Partner Program (RUPP).
») ¶ Strangely, French has a nicer word for E-mail than English does: courriel
is the OLF
's official bilingual tech dictionary.)
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?
Here is the last phrasebook
Americans will ever need when they go overseas. Packed with useful little snippets like:
I wish to complain.
Je veux porter plainte.
Don't "imperialist pig" me, my good man.
Fichez-moi la paix avec votre "cochon impérialiste", mon petit bonhomme.
¡Váyase usted al cuerno con su "cerdo imperialista", hombre!
How do I get Letterman?
Sur quelle chaîne je peux voir Letterman ?
¿En qué canal puedo ver Letterman?