Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Holy Frenchisms!

I can finally relate with a certain cliché about the French (not the cheese-eating surrender monkey cliché).  Rather, consider how the French are supposed to be rude towards Americans because the two cultures just don't 'get' one another.  Like at the Tower of Babel, when the speech was confused, it wasn't just the speech.  It was the way of thinking and maybe the French have a reason or two to be rude.

With the extra poundage, the funny looking money, and a complete rejection of the notion that they should learn a few native words before visiting, Americans just don’t fit in downtown Paris.  Le Big Mac?  EuroDisney?  No wonder the French are protective of their language.  Some things just don’t translate.  Without pondering the depths of cultural imperialism, I can relate to French concerns in these matters.

For example, a few years ago one of the networks had a movie about “The Flood”.  I guess it was based on the Biblical account.  About the same time I remember there was another show about Cleopatra.  Guess what movie was more historically accurate?  Here's a clue:  in TV-land, Sodom doesn’t have Sodomites and Noah wasn’t the only one with an ark.

One would think the producers could have hired some native speakers to guide them through their producing.  But like the rude visitors they were, they didn’t bother.  They had the money, the script, the ugly shorts, the obtrusive camera, and didn't know enough of the native tongue to truly communicate.  My sense was they didn’t understand half of what they were trying to say.  And now Noah -- the movie!  Bum-bum-bum!  The trailer alone looks like Bible fan-fiction.  The original doesn't include red-hot swords on anvils and what looks like a Viking attack on the ark.  I wonder what they'll do with Genesis 6:5?

All kinds of politicians, entertainers, and newsmen say all kinds of things that native speakers can tell came straight from the “Conversational Christianity in 20 Easy Lessons” traveler’s handbook.  And that’s ok, I guess.  I suppose it’s nice to have visitors and people interested, so long as they don’t kid themselves about where they're from.  But many of them represent the worst kind of tourists - those with something to sell.  They don't want to stay to really learn what it's like to live here.

They say things that just don’t make sense to the native speakers.  And not only do they say it with a straight face, but they smile and expect their audience to agree.  Mr. McConaughey apparently not realizing God watches the movies as well as the Oscars, Revelations the mini-series, “regional” correspondents from the New York Times, and high-profile soon to be presidential candidates are all wide-eyed and in our faces, nodding and speaking far too loudly to be taken seriously.  I’m not convinced they’re here with anyone's best interests in mind, other than their own.

Through the prism of metrics, they've spotted a new land; a new marketing segment they want to visit.

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