Friday, 29 July 2011

Learning German with Henning Wehn

The BBC German Languages site contains some excellent resources for learners of German. Self-proclaimed German comedy ambassador, and stand up comedian, Henning Wehn presents a series of hilarious and educational clips entitled "What so funny about German?"

The videos each last 3 or so minutes and the series includes advice on learning the German alphabet, word order, using genders, and finishes with advice on telling jokes in German.
I have embedded two of the clips below.

In the first, False friends, Henning explains that sometimes words sound the same in German and English but have totally different meanings.

In the second clip, Pseudo-anglicisms, Henning shows us that sometimes German takes English words and gives them a completely different meaning.

Do you know what Smoking, Evergreen and Bodybag mean in English? Watch and find out.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Lost in translation.

Translation has always been a tricky business. It isn't just a matter of changing words in one language to another and we can all quote examples of poor, but hilarious, translations from and into English. We can tell immediately if something has been translated by a student using google translate. In short, translation is only as good as the translator.

I read an article today from abc news about Pixar's new film (I refuse to use the word "movie") Cars 2. It has been released around the world and dubbed into 44 different languages and that is where Pixar's problems begin. One character in particular, Mater, proved extremely difficult:

"Mater's kind of a redneck, but that means nothing to anyone overseas because they don't have that particular vocal culture," says Rick Dempsey, senior vice president of Disney Character Voices. "So we had to figure out what region of Germany, for example, has more of an uneducated population without being offensive."

Good luck with that one, Rick.

This article got me thinking about the word "redneck" and how it would translate into other languages. In French, according to the word is "péquenaud". However, if you translate it back into English it gives the meaning as "hillbilly", "yokel" or "country bumpkin". All of these translations mean something completely different in English with differing degrees of offensiveness .

I'm sure that CBS would not have had such a hit in 1962 with a programme called "The Beverly Rednecks" or that the film "Deliverance" would not have been the success it was had Adge Cutler and the Wurzels been cast instead of Bill McKinney and Herbert Coward as the "mountain men".

I think that what I'm trying to say is that translation without intercultural understanding is pointless and if I didn't teach both I would be doing my students a huge disservice.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Learn French in One Word

I love this video. It is from Michelle Chmielewki's youtube channel.

What more can I say?