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The Trouble with Foreign Languages

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  • The Trouble with Foreign Languages

    Just a random observation on the foreign languages used:

    The German in "Gingerbread" is so butchered that it was hard to understand (and that to me as a native speaker) and the Italian where Willow de-rats Amy at the beginning of Season 6 (someone help me out with he episode title ) was even worse.
    Yet the French used was alright usually (except when it was supposed to be wacky).

    Any idea why this is so?
    Sin is what I feast upon
    I'm forging my crematorium
    Your tomb is waiting here for you
    Welcome to my ritual

    -Judas Priest, Death

  • #2
    Probably because the actors can't speak it and have some idea how it should sound like but are really wrong. The American actors have a hard time doing accents and other languages (SMG in halloween, Liam, Dru, Spike, Fred; they all have inconsistant/bad/terrible accents.). I can't really hear it but in most cases, and they probably can't hear it as well.



    Nothing to do with BtVS/Ats; but I hate it when 'Dutch' people enter the scene. The accent is wrong (we sound like we're from Russia or something) or we don't talk at all because dutch people can't speak English (GG I look at you).

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    • #3
      Who's GG? *blush*

      Yet still, somehow they seem to know how to speak French... And French gets butchered up quite dreadfully often enough in other movies. Funny.
      And they must have had someone who wrote those German and Italian lines for them, and there's no way that one couldn't pronounce it... *scratches head*
      Sin is what I feast upon
      I'm forging my crematorium
      Your tomb is waiting here for you
      Welcome to my ritual

      -Judas Priest, Death

      Comment


      • #4
        (GG is Gilmore Girls, the only Dutch character there was a stupid farmer girl who never learned English.)


        Maybe the actors knew French? And pronouncing is a gigantic problem in the most cases. If I talk German, It sounds weird as well and I'm Dutch. The umlaut and the ? are terrible things if you're not German.

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        • #5
          It was also sort of a running theme throughout the series:
          Giles knows a billion languages - from a scholarly POV. Doesn't mean he speaks them well (textbook anything isn't much like the spoken language. Including English...)
          Willow is brilliant - but she sucks at Latin (and Italian, and French, and... well, you get the point.)
          Xander and Buffy have trouble with English...
          "Occasionally, I'm callous and strange..." - Willow Rosenberg, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"

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          • #6
            Good point, they are supposed to have learned French at school.

            Still, the way Willow pronounced the word "pericolo" gave me the famous wiggins.

            (Nina, the ? is easy. Just picture "ss". Same thing. In Switzerland they write "ss" instead of "?" actually. As for the Umlaut stuff, "?" is the same as "u" in French, "?" is similar to the French word "oeuvres", only less nasal, and "?" is like the a in "man" - though it gets pronounced like the common German "e" in the spoken langauge actually.)
            Sin is what I feast upon
            I'm forging my crematorium
            Your tomb is waiting here for you
            Welcome to my ritual

            -Judas Priest, Death

            Comment


            • #7
              Accents must be tricky. I think for the most part JM and JL did a fantastic job as Spike and Dru and DB improved greatly over his time as Angel. SMG had difficulty in 'Halloween' but to be honest I've never really noticed it and Alexis Denisof tricked me originally, I thought he was British to be sure.

              The only time JM screws up is in Ats s5 where it's incredibly jarring in how his voice changes so much from s7 of Btvs. Other than that though I'd say he and Alexis were exceptional.

              ~ Banner by Nina ~

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              • #8
                Alexis Denisof isn't British? Really? See, didn't know that.
                I also assumed James Marsters was British originally - until someone here educated me. Well, there's one episode in s6 where he pronounces "chance" American if I remember that correctly, but then again, one takes on a bit of the accent of the place where one has lived for some time (that said, I hope I don't sound Austrian, it's an ugly variety of German in my opinion yet I definitely had a Swiss accent when I was younger), so Spike may just be partially picking it up like Angel apparently did it.
                Dru sounds somewhat Cockney - and now I guess Juliet Landau isn't British either?
                Sin is what I feast upon
                I'm forging my crematorium
                Your tomb is waiting here for you
                Welcome to my ritual

                -Judas Priest, Death

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                • #9
                  Nope both Alexis and Juliet are American The only actual British actor is Anthony Head.

                  ~ Banner by Nina ~

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                  • #10
                    To be fair though Alexis did live in the UK for a period of time, so I imagine that must have helped somewhat.

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                    • #11
                      James Marsters' English accent was bad in Season 2 because he sounded like he was trying too hard: his speech was much too stilted and artificial-sounding. But in later seasons, he got much more comfortable with it, and his accent sounded natural. I'm afraid that Juliet Landau always sounded like an utter parody of a Cockney, though: the Dick Van Dyke school of accents.

                      Although I'm not Irish myself, I've also heard nothing but bad things about David Boreanaz's Irish accent...


                      As for the foreign languages... it seems to have become a running joke on set that Alyson Hannigan couldn't pronounce any dialogue in a different language, and hated it when she had to. Joss definitely mentions it in one of the later commentaries... and I wouldn't be surprised if her line in 'Get It Done' ("Screw it! Mighty forces, I suck at Latin, okay? But I'm the one in charge here!") wasn't an in-joke by the writer for her benefit.

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                      • #12
                        About the french, it was most of the time okay, I agree...BUT!!! The french part of Xander's dream on Restless with Giles and Anya speaking french, well I know from the voices that it's not actually Head and Caulfield speaking but the french is awful, awful like I only get half the words...
                        sigpic

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                        • #13
                          Oh man, can I just say one word here:


                          Molly


                          *shudders*

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                          • #14
                            The Potential? What is her accent supposed to be, exactly? Slightly Irish?

                            Eh, Pandora's Box, I stand corrected. My own French is patchy, so I didn't really catch what they were saying in this scene.


                            Random sidenote: At the beginning of "Beneath You", in the scene that takes place at Frankfurt, we hear a female voice whispering in German on the soundtrack. The words she is saying are "Von der Tiefe verschlingt es", which means "From the deep it devours" (not "from beneath you", interestingly) - and it's not a very good German, it should be either "aus der Tiefe" or "von der Tiefe aus".
                            Sin is what I feast upon
                            I'm forging my crematorium
                            Your tomb is waiting here for you
                            Welcome to my ritual

                            -Judas Priest, Death

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              She's supposed to have a Cockney accent, but she sounds like she's from the 1800s - 'awright guvna, pip pip!'. For real Cockney accents watch Eastenders! Molly's is hideous

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                              • #16
                                Maybe she learned the accent from My Fair Lady?
                                Sin is what I feast upon
                                I'm forging my crematorium
                                Your tomb is waiting here for you
                                Welcome to my ritual

                                -Judas Priest, Death

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Another little trouble, in "Fool for Love" Spike and are in South America, but as they are with a Chaos Demon, (earlier Spike had said that Drusilla cheated him with a "Brazilian" one) probably this scene should be in Brazil. However, there is a sign that reads Cerveza, what is Spanish for Beer, since in Brazil we speak Portuguese, the correct wor would be Cerveja. This could be a minor error and the funny fact is that if the term Bar has been used it would more appropriated and understood by the English speakers.
                                  Sorry, I don't speak English.

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Bloodsucker View Post
                                    Maybe she learned the accent from My Fair Lady?
                                    Ahahah! I was just reading this thread and I was gonna say, JL sounds a lot like she's trying to do Audrey Hepburn as an insane vamp.

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                                    • #19

                                      And what the Hell happaned to the innocent word c-o-c-k-n-e-y?

                                      jj.bsb, maybe the reason for this is that in the actual flashback scene it actually just says "South America, 1998", and maybe the script wasn't clear about it at first, so they just made a "Spanish" set, and only later on the text was edited to specify that the scene was supposed to have taken place in Brazil?


                                      A little observation on the German spoken in "Why We Fight": Not that bad, for non-native speakers, though sadly Lawson's German is better than the SS officer's. (Is his last name supposed to be "Heinreich", or is his first name supposed to be "Heinrich", because if it should be a first name, then scratch the e. ) The trouble with the SS officer is that the way he speaks already gives away his uncertainty in a language not too well known.
                                      The text is correct though, apart from one minor thing: We wouldn't say "Nachforschungen" for research, rather "Forschung", or in that case "Forschungsarbeiten". Nachforschungen is when you try to find a missing person or a trace of a long-gone relative, or sometimes when the police search for some information. Close enough to the word they were looking for, though.

                                      (As a side note, when Spike says all the virgins looked liek Goebbels it totally cracked me up - because he looks a lot like Goebbels himself in that flashback, with black hair slicked back in combination with those cheekbones of his, and wearing black leather - while Goebbels never was an SS member, a short black leather coat was something like his trademark outfit especially in the earlier times.)
                                      Sin is what I feast upon
                                      I'm forging my crematorium
                                      Your tomb is waiting here for you
                                      Welcome to my ritual

                                      -Judas Priest, Death

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The German in "Gingerbread" is so butchered that it was hard to understand
                                        I thought, Giles was talking in some old german dialect, no?
                                        Adam: "These are lies. [throws S8 comics in the trash] None of this is real. The world has been changed. It's intriguing but it's wrong."
                                        Vampire: "Feels ok to me."
                                        Adam: "You're under his spell just like the others. I seem to be the only one who is not." (c) 4.17 Superstar.

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