Reading Current Events

Oct 02, 2004 20:36 # 27274

Martin *** isn't happy...

Language as an instrument

100% | 8

We're living in an era of daily growing globalization. Economy is not working anymore, if just viewed as a national issue, companies are growing to global structures, while the smaller ones are dying. Wall street coughing creates earthquakes on stock markets around the world. There's no more place in the world that cannot be reached within in minutes to have a live TV broadcast around the world from there. Information in real time is the reality we're facing meanwhile. The Internet makes archives of information available for anyone anywhere. Even places like this, where people meet regardless their origin or cultural background, are a sign for the promising as much as frightening vision of a Spaceship Earth. (Yes, I deliberately ignore the political map at this time)

One would think the first issue to act upon in a situation like that is the language. If I want to be a part of it and I want to stay in touch with whats going on, I first all have to worry about I DO understand my fellow earthlings and do my best to BE understood, if I got something to say. Without any doubt English is the leading, most important language. As a nation I should make sure my citizens feel motivated to learn that language and use it.

This is what Germany is doing about it:

- last month the heads of radio stations governed by public law agreed to raise, respectively - where its not yet installed - introduce a fixed quota of German language music for the daily playlists.

- last week the Association Of Advertisers decided to reduce, respectively eliminate English phrases and slogans from their texts, because its feared AND customers are said to actively complain they dont understand it anymore.

- today I heard about an online poll of one of the leading TV stations, ZDF (governed by public law), where users were asked to name their alltime favorite books. The result was publicly commented as being "strange", because the first German author came in "only" in 4th place behind LOTR, the Bible and Ken Follet's Pillars of Earth (and dont you dare thinking those were read in any other language than German)

These are the current events which made me write this rant. Here are some more that I simply dont understand, or, have to see as a deliberate try to keep up and cherish cultural boundaries:

- each and every movie coming to German cinemas gets dubbed, which costs millions since there are highly qualified actors engaged for it. The amazing thing about it is the fact, that, if you want to watch a movie in the original language - and there ARE a few cinemas where you can - you are paying more for your ticket than for the German version.

- exactly the same applies to books and games, which I find really, really annoying. Wonder why they dont dub music! Imagine Jeanette Biedermann dubbing Britney Spears, or Yvonne Catterfeld dubbing Anatacia's "Sick and tired" to "Schnauze voll"! What? Whats the big deal with it? Actors rely on their voices just as well and its part of their personalities as well. What about authors? All THEY have are there written words. Not only that a bad translation can ruin the complete sense, no, even the best translations are never close to what the original was meant to be.

- TV! Sigh... thats a LONG story! Technically its NO problem anymore to send two audio signals and let the user choose, which one he wants to listen to, original or dubbed version. But no... they invested their millions (which I pay by my dues) for the dubs, so I have to consume them as well. But even worse are interviews with whatever foreign humans, politicians, sportsmen, artists. They do not hesitate for a second to turn OFF the original voice or reduce it to a whisper in the background only to have the German translation read over it. I HATE that. If they would only decide to use subtitles and leave the original untouched, but thats obviously against political interests, cause thats what they did 20 years ago and only ceased to do lately.

- or the leading ISPs. German Telecom and AOL (the German branch of course). What they sell their users as "the Internet" is really adventurous! Besides the fact that its difficult for the unexperienced user to actually leave their very own contents, they have to explicitly switch OFF the filter for German language pages or domains only!

So, whats the sense behind all that? Of course I acknowledge any language as being of cultural value worth being preserved. I'm not asking for one unified world language. All I'm asking for is to motivate people to see further than their own noses and not keeping them deliberately more dumb and blind than they choose to be themselves. There are idiots enough, who smell intermixture of cultures - the ultimate threat - in everything alien and scream alarm right away. Let them die out with time, I dont care! Times have changed, and in my view nationalism (of ANY kind and flavor) is the wrong signal in these times. Not a single nation will survive the next 200 years on its own and with borders closed. I myself never felt "German", its neither my merits nor a curse I was born as German, I never asked for it anyway. I am a citizen of Planet Earth.

(Yes, I DO know my English is far from being perfect, but at least I'm TRYING to improve by using it)

After decades of construction my website is finally up an running: www.kkds.de

Oct 04, 2004 18:39 # 27347

Jaz *** replies...

Re: Language as an instrument

98% | 4

each and every movie coming to German cinemas gets dubbed, which costs millions since there are highly qualified actors engaged for it.

Frankly I find it pretty hard to follow the dialogue in a good number of movies I watch in English. There are often key scenes where some important part of the plot goes past yourself because you didn't know that one stupid vocabulary.

Granted the quality of the synch is no match to the original, but you won't be able to enjoy that until you understand what's going on. Subtitles help, but watching a subbed movie is pretty weird. One must split their attention between scene and text, and being able to read whole lines of dialogue before they are spoken on the big screen takes away a lot of joy.

I don't think the reason for translated books and movies are mean-spirited decision makers with nationalist aspirations. It's rather a matter of demand, and telling people how they are to enjoy their entertainment doesn't feel right. And with my French being barely sufficient to have the baker hand me my breakfast, if they hadn't dubbed Amélie, I had missed out on a wonderful movie.

'Yeah, That's what Jesus would do. Jesus would bomb Afghanistan. Yeah.' - snowlion

Oct 04, 2004 19:43 # 27348

Martin *** replies...

Re: Language as an instrument

98% | 3

I didn't mean to assume another conspiracy theory behind it, not at all. Of course there will always be people, who dont understand a word of any given foreign language and need translations. In fact I myself dont understand or speak any other than English.

Its not a black and white question, not about restricting or even ruling out translations, but just the wish for a choice on equal footing, which it is not at the moment. Why do I have to pay strictly 5 € more for any English language book than for the German version? Why do I have to pay 15 € more for an original PC game? Is it just the import costs? Perhaps..

I agree, it might be difficult to follow certain dialogues in movies given that you're permanently trying to do a simultaneous translation on your mind, which is the wrong approach anyway. But the point is, to ever understand it you have to train your hearing as well as your understanding. You wont learn a language just by studying vocabulary, but by listening to it and using it. And btw, those word skips happen with your native language just as well! Only that your brain is not digressing in internal translation, but does the "error correction" without your explicit thinking of it, to a degree, that you do not even notice! Watch out for it, its an interesting thing I learned lately!

I totally agree to your point about subtitles in movies, nothing to add.

Those my notes about movies, books, games and TV just came to my mind in addition to the current events. And they are something that annoys me a lot lately, just because I'm trying to train my English as much as possible, and how else could I do it other than switching my entertainment language. The baker across the street would look pretty much puzzled and perhaps start questioning my sanity, if I asked for my bread in English!

telling people how they are to enjoy their entertainment doesn't feel right

Thats exactly the reason for writing this!

After decades of construction my website is finally up an running: www.kkds.de

This post was edited by Martin on Oct 04, 2004.

Oct 04, 2004 21:42 # 27357

eljefe *** replies...

Re: Language as an instrument

?% | 1

Subtitles help, but watching a subbed movie is pretty weird.

I guess I'm wierd cause when I watch a foreign movie (primarily Hong Kong Kung Fu films), I prefer the subtitles. I guess I've grown used to looking at the subtitles (plus, I read so many books all the time I read really really quickly...)

Fond memories

Oct 05, 2004 07:24 # 27366

null throws in his two cents...

Re: Language as an instrument

84% | 2

but watching a subbed movie is pretty weird.

I'd like to remark that anime sound pretty stupid (to me) when translated to English, or anything else than Japanese for that matter. They're so much better with their japanese original soundtrack and English subtitles. The same applies, albeit to a much lesser degree, to almost any flick; taking away the original characters' voice & way to speech somehow changes them, and sometimes it even changes aspects of the story. On the other hand, of course it's easier to watch a movie in your own native language.

But working in a cinema where they show everything with subtitles, I'm probably slightly biased. :-)

When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.

Oct 06, 2004 13:06 # 27437

r_pendragon *** replies...

Re: Language as an instrument

95% | 2

Subtitles help, but watching a subbed movie is pretty weird.

For me it depends entirely on what language the film is in. I twitch when my DVD player accidentally puts English subtitles on an English film, because English is my native language and of course I can read it fast enough that I'm skimming the punchlines before they're delivered. Hate that.

For movies that are not in English, French, or Japanese, I'm in dire need of subtitles, because those are the only three languages I understand.

It's kind of a mixed situation, though. Having English subtitles underneath the Japanese or French can be immensely useful from a practice standpoint, but what I really think is best is to watch a Japanese film subbed in Japanese or a French film subbed in French. Yeah, I can read faster than I can hear and comprehend, but it gives me an idea of what to listen for; really helps to pick up new things. I recently bought a bunch of animated films– both Disney and Studio Ghibli– so that I can turn on the Japanese language track and the Japanese subtitles and practice that way. It's easier with animation because the inconsistencies in mouth movement isn't nearly so irritating.

For those of you learning English as a second language, is it irritating to you that if you're going to study a language, English is almost a default? In the U.S. the default foreign language seems to be Spanish. My high school, for example, offered French and German, but almost no one took them; everyone was in Spanish. I found it immensely irritating the number of people who told me to take Spanish instead of French because it was more "practical." I didn't care about practical, I wanted to maintain my French. Reading the works of Marguerite Duras in the language she penned them in– far more important to me than getting a job in the field of ESL.

Linguistically boxed in...

Oct 06, 2004 17:48 # 27445

Jaz *** replies...

Re: Language as an instrument

For those of you learning English as a second language, is it irritating to you that if you're going to study a language, English is almost a default?

At that time, not really. English is so dominant that when you're ten years old you're actually looking forward to learning the language. It's not just practical, it's a necessity.

'Yeah, That's what Jesus would do. Jesus would bomb Afghanistan. Yeah.' - snowlion

Oct 07, 2004 00:17 # 27476

Magnifico *** replies...

Re: Language as an instrument

?% | 1

Imagine this: I'm looking for colleges where I can do international studies, because I'd LOVE to work with foreign relations, especially in Central europe. Now, tie into that the search for a school not just teaching German, which would be useful in a lot of areas combined with English, but something like Czech, Serbo-Croatian, Romanian, or Slovak. Yeah, I know there's not gonna be a whole lot of demand for these languages, but it's stuff I'd like to get under my belt. I can handle French, and I can improvise in Spanish if I want to go to Spain or France; I'm already learning German, and it's not that hard. I want something harder, as well as applicable (I learned speaking Czech IMMENSELY reduced the likelihood I'd get ripped off by cabbies in Prague; "you were talking to another person in English when I asked for the ride, I know you understand me!" pales in comparison to "Prosim vas, chtěla bych Náměstí Republiky prosim")

I'll believe in anything if you'll just believe in anything

This post was edited by Magnifico on Oct 07, 2004.

Oct 07, 2004 08:33 # 27506

Martin *** replies...

Re: Language as an instrument

70% | 3

For those of you learning English as a second language, is it irritating to you that if you're going to study a language, English is almost a default?

There is not much choice left for kids, because nowadays you're getting in touch with it way sooner than 30 years ago, when I was in school. My first foreign language was Latin, followed by Old-Greek, both were mandatory. Only in 8th grade we had a choice between English and French. Today I would assume kids are using terms and words of English in their daily language even before they officially study it at school, which is not a bad thing in my eyes. However, I'm not sure, if they still start studying it in 5th grade today or even earlier... dont know any kids of that age currently. ;)

If you're thinking about the "default second language" for Non-English speaking people I guess it will always be English without second thought. Thats the language you hear most, when you turn on the radio, as soon as you turn on the PC you have to have some basic knowledge (or will get it soon) and it helps you most, when travelling around the world (besides being in France. BTW: anyone here, who EVER met a Frenchman on the net, who was able to talk English?).

After decades of construction my website is finally up an running: www.kkds.de

Oct 05, 2004 08:00 # 27368

null rants...

Re: Language as an instrument

98% | 4

Wonder why they dont dub music! Imagine Jeanette Biedermann dubbing Britney Spears, or Yvonne Catterfeld dubbing Anatacia's "Sick and tired" to "Schnauze voll"! What? Whats the big deal with it?

They do that in France. It's amazing. Depending on the station, you hear the same stuff as here, but all in French. I've asked a resident and they've told me something about a minimum French music quota the stations have to meet. I think there's a similar law in Iceland. (Those people do everything to protect/preserve their culture. They even have a ministry for translating English IT terms into a combination of existing Icelandic words.)

They may not speak English as well as we do (on average), but it seems to me they've preserved much more of their own culture than we do.

each and every movie coming to German cinemas gets dubbed

Sometimes I prefer the original version, too, but I think for the general masses it's the best possible solution. Keep in mind that we here speak much better English than the average German or Swiss... and, hey, German is (y)our native tongue! It's a pretty cool language with some unique features, and an important part of (y)our culture. Watching German movies, listening to German music (Udo Lindenberg... uuuh), reading German magazines (online or on paper), all this contributes to keeping the language alive and living. The ability to talk to almost anyone around the globe, a common language, is good, and if it has to be English, so be it. But that doesn't mean my native language is worth less, or should be neglected!

Technically its NO problem anymore to send two audio signals and let the user choose, which one he wants to listen to, original or dubbed version.

The technology is there, look for a switch labelled A/B or something similar. Problem is, very few channels use it, and only for a few select movies. If your TV is rather new you might not find the switch at all, as it's such a flop, many TV companies don't seem interested in incorporating this feature any longer. Oh well...
(Hey, did you know that there's also a signal the TV station can send to mark commercials? It's supposed to tell VCRs when to pause/resume recording, and more sophisticated TVs could theoretically use it to tell you to stop zapping when the commercials are over. The signal is never used tho, wonder why that is...)


On a (not completely unrelated) side note, after most of us are exposed to English all day, have you ever noticed how this influences your real-life conversation behaviour and use of your native language? I don't know about you, but to me it occasionally happens that I'm forming a sentence in (Swiss) German, and when I look for a certain expression my mind first presents me with the English one, and I have to think a little more to find the same expression in my native language. It reminds me of people living abroad for a long time and starting to forget their native language.

you are paying more for your ticket than for the German version.

http://www.filmclub.li :-)

When life hands you a lemon, that's 40% of your RDA of vitamin C taken care of.


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