Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Use of Language

In my last blog post titled “7 Days in Entebbe”, I wrote the following:
 
In the movie when two Germans speak, they speak in their native German language. When two Palestinians speak they speak in Arabic. Why then does the director of the movie let the Israeli Cabinet discuss everything in English? The Israeli Cabinet will always discuss topics in their own language - Hebrew - and not in English. I have a possible reason and it’s the topic of my next blog post.
 
Here it is...
 
I believe the director of this movie decided to have Israeli Cabinet’s conversation in English because, in my opinion, he thought it would show the full force of their words to the audience.
 
As you can see in this movie, when two Germans speak in German they show the English translation at the bottom of the screen via subtitles. That does not capture the full force of their words to the audience. The same is true for the two Palestinians speaking in Arabic. English subtitles are provided on the movie screen. Only if you hear the conversation in the language that is most familiar to you (in this case - English) only then will you get the full effect of the conversation.
 
This takes me back to an eminent international scholar I spoke to once back in the day. He was a professor emeritus at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
 
He told me that leaders and diplomats from English speaking countries (USA, UK, etc.) hate Indian leaders and diplomats because Indians reply/retort immediately without waiting for a translator.
 
According to him, when people say something in their native language…it is then being translated to their counterparts (Russians, Chinese, Japanese, etc.). Then the other leader says something to the translator and he/she translates it into English. So non-English speakers are unable to give an immediate and effective reply/retort. They just sit in front of the English speaking guys like dummies with smiles.
 
So if you understand the language and feel the full impact headed in your direction, without the need for a translator or subtitles, the lesson is “give it to back to them” by replying immediately in their own language.
 
Yo! Your movie sucks and is a terrible re-boot. Let me know if you need a translator or subtitles for assistance.

23 comments:

  1. I have not seen the film.
    True,subtitles do not bring out the full effect of listening to the actual conversation in their language due to missing tonal variations or their intensity.That could be the reason why English was used when Israelis spoke. One never knows why the director resorted to this.
    I am unable to accept the point that diplomats and leaders from English speaking nations dislike Indian leaders for their prompt response.In fact they would welcome it without a long and uncomfortable pause.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Mr. KP. I was just quoting from this eminent international scholar. According to him, these English speaking diplomats thought themselves superior and Indians replied as equals.

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  2. I think talking in the native language also gives a good vibe to anyone you talk to, when you go to another country and try to speak their broken language, they feel so happy that we are making an effort. In this Movie scenario, I think impact was most needed. Good One SG

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    1. Thanks for your comments Dee. I am glad you agree speaking in a language that we understand will have the highest impact.

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  3. I have not seen the movie, but there is one German movie (Downfall in English) where Hitler speaks to his generals during the final days. I have watched it with and without subtitles, the without subtitles clip seems to be more intense. Here it is - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7PmzdINGZk

    Of course this is a one-way communication where we just see & listen to a conversation. If it was two way, where we'd have to participate, it'd be better to talk in a language both the parties understand.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Thanks for your comments Rajesh. I am glad you agree speaking in a language that we understand will have the highest impact

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  4. It is an interesting interpretation, SG. I have a thought, why couldn't they make Hebrew version of the movie as well? The world would have listened to Hebrew then!

    May be, leaders and diplomats from English speaking countries are worried that Bharatiyas are speaking in their language while they are unable to speak single Bharatiya language 😀

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    1. Good one Sindhu. I remember seeing tennis matches at Wimbledon, and other grand slam events. Vijay and
      Anand Amritraj(doubles partners) talking loudly in
      Tamil to each other which made the opponents and commentators go bonkers.

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    2. Wow! Good to know that! Proud mother language speakers 😀

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  5. Vijay and Anand speaking in Tamil....it should have been fun to watch!

    I like to watch movies without sub titles. But sometimes I am not able to follow the American or Australian English because of their heavy accent. The correct impact is not there, when you have to concentrate on reading instead of watching the actors' facial expressions and body language. Well, I will watch the movie you have quoted soon to reply properly here!

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    1. Thanks for your comments Sandhya. I too hate to read the subtitles without looking at the movie above.

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  6. I don't know how an Israeli viewer of the movie would have felt watching the proceedings in English.

    In India, there are TV advertisements which are dubbed into local languages. So we have the likes of Rani Mukherjee and Sachin Tendulkar speaking in all Indian languages.

    Recently, I saw Amitabh Bachchan talking in Malayalam, eloquently professing the greatness of the product he was sponsoring. It looked so artificial; especially, since I have seen the original Hindi version.

    Now, I don't know how a person who knows only Malayalam, and who hasn't seen the Hindi version, would like that ad in which Amitabh talks in Malayalam. Probably, he would have been impressed.

    An interesting topic to research.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Pradeep. That person who knows only Malayalam will be thinking Amitabh Bachchan is a polyglot.

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  7. The diplomats not liking the Indians responding back immediately, is it because of their insecurities :P

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    1. Thanks for your comments Shilpa. I don't know the answer. This JNU Professsor who told me was pointing out the arrogancy of these Western diplomats.

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  8. You have made a valid point here. And probably the movie was made for global audience than just Hebrew speaking population.
    I had a good laugh at the statement of JNU professor about Indians retorting in English.

    P.S. I am yet to translate that poem in English, although it is part done. I am stuck in translating it in the end, want that exact expression to come out.

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    1. Thanks for your comments Shesha. Long time No see. Hope you are doing well. You are correct. This movie was made for global audience.

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    2. Yes yes I am doing well. I feel lost at times due to scarcity of topics in my head. Compulsive writing like this Atoz challenge is bringing something out of my head.

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    3. I always look forward to your blog posts Shesha. Please write as often as possible. Thanks.

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  9. That's an interesting point. Also the translator will probably polish the reply and make it softer in tone maybe?

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