Cultural Villainy

This afternoon/evening, I found myself discussing various voice and talking style stereotypes in American English and in Japanese (from Japan, of course*).

It all started with seeing the film “Aladdin” in the cinema this afternoon, and then, over ice cream afterward, we veered onto Disney music and its composers a lyricists (and how amazing some of the greats are[!!!]).

Then we branched into the Japanese versions of this music, as the friend with me is Japanese, and she grew up only hearing the Japanese language versions of the songs.

We discussed differences I had found in the music, and why I thought each one was so… now that she has been living in the US for about a year, she saw exactly what I meant and genuinely understood.

“Colors of the Wind” sounds somewhat stressed and so compounded and busy in Japanese, yet the English sounds so open and contemplative, filled with deep breaths and space through the notes and the words… there are just too many syllables in the Japanese, and too many consonants in between all the vowels…

An American likely would be appalled at hearing the Japanese version of Scar’s voice, because the voice doesn’t match the type of villain that he is… it is not entitled and brooding and, almost like serial killer style, the voice of someone who is biding his time until his plot can unfurl perfectly to his advantage – until, at last, he is granted his dues, as Scar says.

To American ears, the Japanese Scar in pathetic and angry and holds no weight behind his short-man angry yelling of a voice, desperately hoping someone will listen to him and do what he wants others to do.

And yet, to Japanese ears, the Japanese Scar is exactly right: He is the stereotypical ‘bad guy’ voice and has that same ‘bad guy’ and ‘villain’ manner of speaking… the English version would sound just ‘American’, and have nothing special tied to it for Japanese ears.

And my friend was able to see and hear just these things, and mainly because she has become accustomed to hearing so many different ways of speaking that people have here in English (unlike Japanese English in Japan, which is pretty much always the same).

And, somehow, I found the whole situation to be fascinating and utterly fulfilling… I had never really thought quite so much and quite so pointedly about the translations and the voices of actors until today, though it certainly was not my first or, even, tenth time considering it all.

It had me feel an almost silly passion for Disney and, in particular, “The Lion King”, and yet I couldn’t find a reason not to care so much about it all – I love languages and music and seeing things in new ways, and these Disney movies had huge impacts on my childhood and, therefore, my life as a whole… they are a part of me… and I care about and love myself.

So, I guess I get to love those Disney films, too, silly little perfect details and all. πŸ™‚

By the way, I went into “Aladdin” with an attitude of its being a different film and perspective of the same story as the animated version…, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film – it was wonderful(!).

And it was filmed in Jordan(!)… how cool is that?!

I don’t often go to cinemas these days (in the US, anyway), but I am glad I went today – it was a lovely experience. πŸ™‚

*Does Japanese have a culture of native speakers anywhere else in the world?

Post-a-day 2019

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Karate

Whenever I do this teeth whitening thing, I have to keep his little blue-light mouthpiece in my mouth, gripped between my teeth, for five minutes.

Afterward, I spit out the excess gel in my mouth and I wash off the mouthpiece.

Whenever I’m in the cleanup stage, I’m always adjusting my jaw, stretching its muscles, and feeling around my teeth a bit with my tongue.

As I do this, I find myself remembering strongly my days of American karate in my youth.

For sparring, we had to have a rubber mouth guard to protect our teeth… I remember how, every time I got a new mouth guard, my mom and I would be in the kitchen, trimming edges, boiling the rubber, and mashing my teeth into it to make it mold perfectly to my bite and teeth.

It was always so exciting to me, for some reason I cannot yet understand… perhaps it was the specialness of the whole process, like we were doing a whole (and real) science lab experiment, tongs and boiling water and all… and it was for me… so it was something unique and special and process-filled, specifically being done for me…

Perhaps that was a large part of it…

Whatever the case, I always enjoyed it, forming my mouth guards.

Especially the bit of biting down on my mouth guard, squeezing my teeth tightly, and wedging them each into the rubber, claiming specific territory to be forever theirs in that particular mouth guard…

Whenever we did spar, and I got to wear my mouth guard, I rather enjoyed sucking and chewing slightly on my mouth guard, tasting the rubber, feeling the tiny rebound it provided when I clenched my jaw and released, hearing the squishy sounds of saliva being pushed around and in and out of the mouth guard’s coverage area as I clicked my teeth (with the rubber between them, of course) together several times in quick succession… and then tasting again, as I held my jaw snug and sucked everything out of the mouth guard.

It all seems odd to me now, considering it and sharing it, but also still quite familiar… I don’t see myself doing half these same things nowadays, yet I remember them fondly nonetheless.

And, every time I whiten my teeth, I am filled with a few drops of that excitement and delight brought it me for years by karate…, making it a unique and somewhat special experience so far as teeth whitening goes. πŸ˜›

P.S. I love finding words that I’ve known for years, but whose language of origin I didn’t initially speak, but now speak, and, therefore, as I cross the word anew, I suddenly see it from the eyes of this language I now speak, instead of as a foreign word with meaning I must struggle to remember… karate is one of those words… from my American eyes and ears and mind, it is pronounced the American way and means merely a form of martial arts… from my Japanese eyes et cetera, it is pronounced with a Japanese pronunciation, it means 空手 (からて), which literally means “empty hand”, and it is a form of martial arts… and, somehow, the two are simultaneously the same thing and two totally different ones… so it goes… πŸ˜›

Post-a-day 2019