mjj (flemmings) wrote,
mjj
flemmings

So in my enforced idleness- happily or unhappily set to end today- one of the things I watched was a stack of Saiyuki DVDs with the subtitles on. Most enlightening and not only in the 'Oh was *that* what Nii was saying? Now I see where Hwan/ Gyokumen yuri comes from' ('but I still don't get how mumble-mumble becomes 'rival in love.') It's when someone rants about the need to use explicit sexual language at fanfic_rants and someone else says 'Sorry, my naive fifteen-year-old girl character ain't using none of them words.' No indeed, I say approvingly, have the character use the kind of word they /would/ use, especially if they're the polite reticent kind...

...and then wonder how you know someone's polite and reticent just from reading his English. (Hearing is a can of worms we won't go into today.) Hakkai always uses desu-masu tai; that's instinctively my notion of his character, more surely than the still vexed question of how good his right eye is. But if what he says is all mumble-mumble to the listener, none of that can register. Tone may convey something (though tone often works against the message conveyed by the politeness level) but in general: he speaks the same English as the others. The same you, the same I, the same come and go as everyone else. It has a flattening effect on the character's concept. No wonder many people's Saiyuuki charas sound like a bunch of Americans talking. That's what the writers have seen (or worse, as I say- heard.)

And then I looked at the bunch of wu xia films I also rented and thought Oh dear. Wonder what I'm missing there? Not merely that the 'shr' that people say yes with is, I am informed, actually a very high level Mandarin way of saying Yes, for all that it sounds entertainingly like our 'Sure.' Oh well. I'm good for another ten years before dementia sets in. Chinese, here I come.
Tags: chinese, japanese, saiyuki
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