Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Mais oui, nein? Tiens!

The other week, barsine, daegaer and I were lounging about in my sitting room, drinking wine and watching Dorothy L Sayers DVDs, when barsine raised a point that I had never considered before. The Lord Peter/Harriet Vane mystery was centred around a mysterious Russian emigre who was an exhibition dancer at a hotel (my dream occupation, I think. If I could, you know, dance), and he had several exhibition-dancer friends who, like himself, hailed from other lands. And like lots of "foreigners" in English literature and film, the speech of these people was peppered with random words in their native tongues, like "mais oui", or "nein". But barsine (who, like me, studied a furrin language at university - French for her, German for me - meaning that, like dancing Russian emigres, we are both well used to rambling incoherently in non-native lingos) pointed out that when one speaks in another language, one can usually remember the words for yes and no automatically, making this literary practice even more ridiculous. How can Poirot discource at length upon various poisons, and yet be forced to resort to his native French when saying "but yes"? I mean, if I were talking about, I dunno, the effects of strychnine on the nervous system in German, I doubt the words "but yes!" would have me scuttling back to English. I think I'd have been flummoxed by detailed medical terms first. In fact, I think I'd be saying basic German things like "aber ja" or "leider nein" every five seconds in order to give the (false) effect of native fluency. So why do these faux-immigrants keep dropping easy furrin words into their perfect English? Ah, because it's a lazy way for writers to indicate the dodgy presence of Johnny Foreigner! I forgot.

In other non-linguistic news, how the hell did I forget how much I absolutely and utterly love the Jam? Oh yes, because all my Jam albums are on vinyl and have been sitting on my wardrobe in a huge box with my other records for two years, waiting for me to have room for my stereo's turntable in my room. Which I now do! But so that I can listen to them on my iPod, I just downloaded a bunch of my favourite songs, and am now jumping about in my seat remembering the days when I used to trot about in a little Fred Perry shirt and listen to lots of Northern Soul. 'Eton Rifles' still has the best bass line ever.


Mar. 23rd, 2005 06:33 am (UTC)
I know this is completely tangential to the point you are making, but I'm short of people to discuss Sayers dramatisations with in Ethiopia, and I just wanted to get the following off my chest:

I just watched the Gaudy Night series last night, for the first time since I read the book (i.e. for the first time in about 15 years). What the fuck? Why did they dispense with a perfectly good plot and dialogue and just, you know, completely make up their own? And the oddest thing is the way that completely irrelevant and unimportant bits of original dialogue are kept - things like, 'Do you think Lord Peter can get me access to that library? Oh, good' - stuff which has absolutely no relevance to plot or character development. Meanwhile, much more intersting and important stuff is completely ditched.

Rant over.


fat pony like thunder
The Monkey Princess

Latest Month

July 2009


Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Cindy S.