Learning a Language for Film Studies

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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MichaelB
Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
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Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#26 Post by MichaelB » Thu May 09, 2013 9:26 am

Pronunciation is much easier if the spelling system is both phonetic and consistent - which isn't the case with either English or French!

However, it more or less is the case with Italian, Spanish, German and Slavic languages like Czech and Polish, so in theory pronunciation should be straightforward. That said, in the case of a language like Polish, there's sometimes a pretty big gap between knowing how a word should be pronounced and actually being able to get your tongue around it - and I'm very glad that my piano teacher taught me how to pronounce the name 'Dvořák' correctly when I was still in single figures, as it means that the distinctively Slavic 'ř'/'rz' sound holds no terrors for me.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#27 Post by colinr0380 » Thu May 09, 2013 11:54 am

MichaelB wrote:Amusingly enough, though, Ken Loach is much bigger in France than he is in any English-speaking country, even though he tends to favour extreme regional authenticity when it comes to accents/dialects. But I suspect that's part of the problem - English speakers, especially outside the UK, often find his films hard to follow (I believe they often get subtitled in the US, and Sweet Sixteen had its first reel subtitled on its British theatrical release in order to ease people into it). In France, this obviously wouldn't be an issue at all, and so his films are probably easier viewing for that reason. (Similarly, Visconti had to redub La Terra Trema into Italian when Italian audiences found its original Sicilian dialect incomprehensible - but audiences reliant on subtitles wouldn't have been bothered at all).
To quote the Tony Garnett interview in this month's Sight and Sound:
[On Kes] I showed it to the man from UA, and as he walked out he said to me, " I would have preferred Hungarian"! He couldn't understand a word of it. The distributor here refused to put it out. Finally another distributor put it out in five cinemas in Yorkshire and it broke the house record in every one, so then it came to London. They wanted us to do subtitles everywhere south of Nottingham.

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GaryC
Joined: Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:56 pm
Location: Aldershot, Hampshire, UK

Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#28 Post by GaryC » Thu May 09, 2013 12:10 pm

MichaelB wrote:Amusingly enough, though, Ken Loach is much bigger in France than he is in any English-speaking country, even though he tends to favour extreme regional authenticity when it comes to accents/dialects. But I suspect that's part of the problem - English speakers, especially outside the UK, often find his films hard to follow (I believe they often get subtitled in the US, and Sweet Sixteen had its first reel subtitled on its British theatrical release in order to ease people into it). In France, this obviously wouldn't be an issue at all, and so his films are probably easier viewing for that reason.
Sweet Sixteen has been shown at least twice on BBC2 with English subtitles throughout...and the first screening caused Scottish viewers to complain about this!

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Mr Sausage
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Joined: Wed Nov 03, 2004 9:02 pm
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Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#29 Post by Mr Sausage » Thu May 09, 2013 12:29 pm

YnEoS wrote:^on pronunciation

Do you think that might have something to do with having been exposed to the language a lot through films beforehand? I've heard lots of language learners say that while passive listening before learning is nearly useless in terms of passive acquisition, it does give you a good sense for the feel of a language. Not that a lot of language listening automatically equates perfect pronunciation, but perhaps it gives you a very strong idea of how the language should sound, and helps you notice flaws in your pronunciation very early in the learning process.
This undoubtedly helps. I find from watching so many foreign films I have an instinctive feel for how different languages sound. I don't know why. My sister is like this, too.

But this ability, at least for me, is unrelated to exposure. When I started taking Latin in University, I'd never really heard the language before and couldn't tell you how to pronounce it, but I got the pronunciation down quickly after the first lesson on it. Then it was on to the truly difficult stuff, like all those goddamn conjugations.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#30 Post by colinr0380 » Thu May 09, 2013 1:00 pm

I can't remember if I've told the story before of when I was in my early teens and taking a Latin GCSE course with a small group of other pupils after school. Looking in the TV listings one day I saw a film showing late at night which just said 'In Latin With English subtitles'. There had been no more information on the page than that. Trying to be helpful I mentioned it to the teacher!

Of course that film was Sebastiane, and the teacher who had said she would watch out for it very delicately told me at the next week's lesson that it wasn't particularly suitable for showing in class! (And ignored my questions asking why not, since it was in spoken Latin) It took me a few years to finally find out exactly why it was unsuitable!

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Black Hat
Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2011 5:34 pm
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Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#31 Post by Black Hat » Thu May 09, 2013 1:03 pm

May I also suggest putting on a news channel of the language you want to learn. My French is nowhere near as sharp as it should be but whenever I get annoyed about that watching the French news helps me out a great deal.

Also any suggestions on how or where on the web to learn Czech? A buddy of mine is learning.

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TMDaines
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 1:01 pm
Location: Stretford, Manchester

Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#32 Post by TMDaines » Thu May 09, 2013 2:01 pm

Black Hat wrote:May I also suggest putting on a news channel of the language you want to learn. My French is nowhere near as sharp as it should be but whenever I get annoyed about that watching the French news helps me out a great deal.
SBS in Australia is great for this sort of stuff. They do so much foreign language audio material on a variety of stuff. They tend to be my go-to Italian podcast. DW has a lot of good stuff for German learners.

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YnEoS
Joined: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:30 am

Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#33 Post by YnEoS » Thu May 09, 2013 2:08 pm

Black Hat wrote:Also any suggestions on how or where on the web to learn Czech? A buddy of mine is learning.
If you've got a lot of motivation there's a Foreign Service Institute introduction course and a complete Defense Language Institute course for Czech in the public domain. They're not exactly fun and the learning curve is steep, but they're free and extensive with lots of audio materials.

A lot of times if you take the self-teaching path these are the only in depth resources available for a lot of less popular languages. I've been pretty heavily dependent on them for learning Cantonese.

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Lemmy Caution
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 3:26 am
Location: East of Shanghai

Re: Learning a Language for Film Studies

#34 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu May 09, 2013 3:50 pm

I've always thought the news was rather difficult in a foreign language because the context shifts every few minutes and every story has its own terminology. I always thought it was easier to tackle a show such as a travel program or cooking or something else with a consistent theme. I've found news easier if first you watch/read the news in your native language and then try the foreign news after you're familiar with what went down.

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