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
"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.
For non-anglophones, the English names of worldwide brands, music bands and other cultural items are both ubiquitous and slightly mysterious.
Here what the English (plus some German, Spanish and Japanese) names of 52 brands/logotypes
and 30 musicians/records
look like when very loosely and somewhat lazily translated in French. Some extras can be found in the comments (note: annoying pop-up at the start)
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]
"The Threat to Proust"
by Roger Shattuck: When Proust’s novel fell into the public domain in 1987, three Paris publishing houses were ready with new editions that had been in preparation for several years. They all carry the same basic 3,000-page text with few variations. The differences lie in packaging and presentation. Laffont-Bouquins chose to publish three fat volumes prefaced by elaborate historical and biographical materials. Garnier-Flammarion produced ten pocket-sized volumes competently edited by Jean Milly. The new Pléiade edition, published by the original copyright holder, Gallimard, made the boldest, most ambitious, and most expensive bid to claim the market. In a combination of editorial, literary, and commercial decisions, Gallimard proposed to influence the way we read Proust and, to some degree, the way we approach all great literary works. [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
There is a before and an after André Markowicz. In the early 1990s the translator, born to a Russian mother and French father, began translating the complete works of Dostoyevsky for Babel / Actes Sud. By the time he finished the mammoth undertaking in 2002 he had proved something: what people had been reading by Dostoyevsky wasn’t Dostoyevsky
. - an interview with André Marcowicz
, writer and translator. [more inside]
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]
YouTube user lightning49
has 160 of videos of French singers
which she has subtitled with her translations. Her biggest collection is of Jacques Brel videos
but there are also songs performed by George Brassens
, Charles Aznavour
, Edith Piaf
as well as a smattering of other stuff. To start you off with a few songs here are three of my favorite songs by Brel, Je suis un soir d'éte
, Le moribond
and La valse à mille temp
along with Charles Aznavour's La boheme
, Edith Piaf's Milord
and Georges Brassens' Les passantes
was one of France's most successful popstars, a complete song-and-dance act who remained at the top of the charts for almost ten years before his career was tragically cut short when he tried to change a lightbulb while in the bath (youtube ahead). [more inside]
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.
J'ECRIS JE DESSINE,
Pour les enfants écrire
, lire sur Internet
. Inventer des contes
, faire des dessins
, les publier
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?