Archive for Language and the movies

Botched dubbing of a Taiwanese Mandarin film on the mainland

From Eoin Cullen:

This is a really fascinating story:  a Taiwanese film ("Dāng nánrén liàn'ài shí 当男人恋爱时" ["Man in Love"]) where the main character has been dubbed for the mainland Chinese release. The film is mostly in accented Taiwan Mandarin and the protagonist peppers his speech with Southern Min (Taiwanese / Hoklo), so someone decided there’d be a comprehensibility issue for mainland audiences (despite the fact that there are Chinese language subtitles on all films, Chinese or otherwise). In the dubbed version the protagonist has a notable mainland Mandarin accent, which is hilarious for Taiwanese netizens. This to me would be like if the film Trainspotting had been dubbed into American English for its US release.

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Ancient bronze inscription in a modern film set in China

Philip Taylor writes:

At around 07:08 into the extraordinarily stupid film The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), the witch holds a scroll engraved with pictograms.  Is this a real example of an early Sinitic script, or just a nonce script created for the film?

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Barbarian Language in a Chinese movie

From Alex Baumans:

I'm getting more and more interested in Chinese pop culture, so I keep discovering things.
 
I recently watched Painted Skin 2, which is your typical fantasy action movie, with star crossed lovers, a princess, a fox spirit and a lone outpost of the area surrounded by barbarians.
 
When these barbarians (and they are truly depicted as barbarians, straight from Hyboria) came on screen, I pricked up my ears. As I said in an earlier mail, my Chinese is next to non existent, but I have watched a lot of reality shows with The9 these last weeks, and this didn't sound like any Chinese I was used to.
 
Even more bafflingly, I had the impression I could make out some Indian sounding words like 'rajaputra' [VHM: "prince"] and 'deva' [VHM:  "god; deity"] which would be appropriate in the context. These may be mondegreens, as I don't know any Indian languages. I have only watched a fair bit of Bollywood cinema and have a background in Farsi.
 
So I thought this little enigma (if it is one) would amuse you.

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Chinese: what do you hear?

[This is a guest post by Jonathan Smith]

Here's an audio passage from a film I've been watching:

If you know Chinese, test yourself to see how much of it you understand.

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"Mulan" is a masculine, non-Sinitic name

There is much hullabaloo over the new "Mulan" trailer:

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Sienna Miller's southeastern PA accent

Adam Hermann, "Sienna Miller talks nailing the Philly accent for 'American Woman' on Jimmy Fallon", Philly Voice 6/15/2019:

British actress Sienna Miller has an accent when she talks, but it's decidedly not something you normally hear from an eastern Pennsylvania resident.

For the film "American Woman", which comes out next week and is set in "a small, blue-collar town in Pennsylvania", Miller had to figure out what people from around here talk like.

It wasn't easy, because the Philadelphia accent is so dang weird, but she clearly had some help, because she kind of nailed it.

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The Sinophone

I think about the problem of the Sinophone every day, but I haven't written about it very often on Language Log (see "Readings" below).  We have Anglophone (English-speaking), Francophone (French-speaking), Hispanophone (Spanish-speaking), Germanophone or Teutophone (German-speaking), Italophone (Italian-speaking), Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking), Russophone (Russian-speaking),  Hellenophone (Greek-speaking), Arabophone (Arab-speaking), etc.  So why not Sinophone, since diasporic Sinitic speakers are spread widely around the world?

About fifteen years ago, several of us who were interested in the subject independently started to use the term "Sinophone", but credit is usually (and I think rightly) given to Shu-mei Shih for coining and popularizing it in written publications (2004 and especially 2007).

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Only the Communist Party can save the earth

Movie ticket for "Liúlàng dìqiú 流浪地球" ("Wandering earth"):


(Source)

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Subpar subtitles

This is a full length martial arts action movie (English title "Sword Master"). You probably won't be able to stand watching much of it, and you have to put up with some pretty atrocious fighting scenes, but if you stick around for a few minutes of the Chinglish subtitles, you'll find them to be quite bizarre, although most seem to be just poor automatic translation.

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"I Want to Eat Your Pancreas"

Seen by a friend of Jeff DeMarco in Sydney, Australia's Chinatown:

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Toilet: A Love Story

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"Projects we need financed": Pittsburghian?

My Wall Street Journal column this week looks at the history of the word rider, inspired by Frances McDormand's cryptic use of the phrase "inclusion rider" at the end of her acceptance speech at the Oscars on Sunday, after she won the Best Actress award for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. (Link to WSJ column here — if paywalled, follow my Twitter link here.) But just before she got to "inclusion rider," McDormand offered another linguistically intriguing nugget. Here's how the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported it:

On Sunday, she asked all of the women nominees in Hollywood's Dolby Theatre to stand and reminded them to tell their stories.
Laughing, she said in the Pittsburgh vernacular, "Look around ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed." 

You can hear the relevant bit at the end of this clip.

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Mixed script photo in the New York Times

From Elijah Granet:

I am writing because of this picture I recently saw on the New York Times website:

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