Re: Myan

1

Na´ve Sapir-Whorfism alert.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 9:38 AM
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2

Are you accusing me, Bridgeplate?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 9:43 AM
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3

I think so. Do I accuse you wrongly?


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 9:48 AM
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4

Well, are you denying that different languages conceptualize things differently? And, though I didn't say it, denying that what's important to an Australian writing in English in 2005 is likely not what was important to a Mayan 500 years ago?


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 9:51 AM
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Don't you understand, ogged? Some tropes are universal--the hero with 10,000 faces, the love that dare not speak its name, why are white people so uptight...the list goes on.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 9:53 AM
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Of all the things that make me say "Mel Gibson is an idiot," this is way way way at the bottom of the list. Filming in Mayan is totally balls-out. One might also suggest that if one wants to have the population of the region where the story takes place represented by people who actually live there, it's OK to have them speaking their native language, which seems to be what's going on here. (With more authenticity than I understand the Passion to have had.)

Mind you, I'm confident that the movie will suck, because Mel Gibson is an idiot. But no worse than if it were filmed in English.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 9:56 AM
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7

Mel hates blind people.


Posted by: Joe O | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:03 AM
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8

I think Pynchon did the same effing thing for Mason & Dixon.


Posted by: Kriston | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:03 AM
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9

I can't believe SB called me naive and just went away. SB is still innocent!!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:29 AM
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10

Would "vulgar Sapir-Whorfism" have been more acceptable?


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:31 AM
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Black Robe was an awesome movie, despite the fact that some of the dialogue had to be written for languages that had no written form (and were surely different than the versions spoken today) at the time in which the movie was set. The only somewhat questionable decision they made in terms of language was having the French Jesuit speak in English.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:31 AM
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12

I'm assuming that the post title is spelled that way deliberately.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:33 AM
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13

No, it's just a fucking mistake. Back off!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:35 AM
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14

Oh, wrong thread.

Um, yes, it is deliberately misspelled.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:35 AM
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Would "vulgar Sapir-Whorfism" have been more acceptable?

Yes.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:42 AM
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16

So sorry! "Vulgar" it is.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:48 AM
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17

I still don't know what your objection is, but apology accepted.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 10:51 AM
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18

A concept may be more conveniently or concisely expressed in one language than another, but I really doubt that language determines the set of available concepts.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 11:01 AM
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19

Some languages conflate the colors we distinguish as blue and green into one color(-word).


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 11:03 AM
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SB, you're only saying that because you're an English-speaker.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 11:07 AM
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21

but I really doubt that language determines the set of available concepts.

Can I ask why? Or maybe more to the point: at some level, doesn't efficiency dictate what concepts are effectively available?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 11:16 AM
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Some languages conflate the colors we distinguish as blue and green into one color(-word).

Sure. If you wanted to make a distinction, though, you could say "blue like the sky" or "blue like vegetation". Now maybe this kind of distinction isn't usually important to the speakers of this language, but that doesn't mean their eyes work differently.


Posted by: Standpipe Bridgeplate | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 11:17 AM
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I really doubt that language determines the set of available concepts

Ohhh. When I wrote "conceptualizes," you thought I was writing about concepts. Naive blog-reader alert!

Seriously, a lot depends on what you mean by "available." I wouldn't say that there are languages in which certain concepts don't exist and can't be introduced. But surely there are distinctions and categories that already exist in some languages that don't already exist in others. And what's available in that sense, just lying around, makes a difference in how we assign importance to things, and explain ourselves to ourselves, etc. (which is what I vulgarly meant by "conceptualize").


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 11:17 AM
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But surely there are distinctions and categories that already exist in some languages that don't already exist in others.

Right, e.g., Gestalt, or every word in the Yiddish language.


Posted by: Kriston | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 11:44 AM
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25

They have a word for it, you know.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 12:22 PM
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26

Is this any different from having everyone speak gibberish, and then giving subtitles? For all but the Mayan scholars, that's what'll be anyhow.


Posted by: tweedledopey | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 12:26 PM
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27

It'd be one thing if it were French I mean. Or spanish. Or even russian. But does anyone speak Mayan or read Mayan in real-time? I know there's the whole, let's make it realistic thing, but what the fuck? Realistic for whom?


Posted by: tweedledopey | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 12:28 PM
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28

I think Pynchon did the same effing thing for Mason & Dixon.

How did I miss a movie version of Mason & Dixon in Mayan?

Seriously, Kriston, what same thing? You mean, wrote it in c18 English and translated it into Pynchon hipster-speak?


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 12:49 PM
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29

It seems plausible to me that more people speak Mayan than Aramaic.

Also, if the subtitles are translations of the Mayan dialogue back into English, rather than the original script, aren't gems like "backstroke of the west" from last week's post likely to occur?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 12:52 PM
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You mean, wrote it in c18 English and translated it into Pynchon hipster-speak?

That way or vice-versa.


Posted by: Kriston | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 1:05 PM
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31

It's like the babelfish telephone game!


Posted by: tweedledopey | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 1:15 PM
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32

It seems plausible to me that more people speak Mayan than Aramaic.

Over 3 million, according to Wikipedia. And in re 26: It sounds to me as though the cast will be Mayan speakers, so it'll be fluently spoken gibberish with subtitles.


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 2:07 PM
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33

I've been told that in Yucatec Maya one express agreement by saying "j'a j'a taan," literally "True is your word." Or more colloquially, "Word up." I hope that makes it into the subtitles.

(My transliteration extraordinarily unreliable.)


Posted by: Matt Weiner | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 2:09 PM
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34

I'm especially glad that these children are here today to listen to Gabby Johnson's authentic frontier gibberish!


Posted by: tweedledopey | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 2:13 PM
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35

>Some languages conflate the colors we distinguish as blue and green into one color(-word).

This study gives limited support for Sapir-Whorf. This study is different from previous studies that looked the ability to distinguish two different colors. The previous studies found that people from cultures that have a single word for blue/green have the same ability to distinguish blue and green as people from cultures with separate words for blue and green. But, the previous studies did not test memory of a past event.

Words are important for memory. If you don't have separate words for blue and green it is hard to encode this distinction into memory.

Here is another study that discusses the importance of words for memory. That study suggests that "childhood amnesia" is a by-product of children not having words to encode things into memory before they acquire language.


Posted by: Joe O | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 2:15 PM
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36

On that ground I suspect I was incapable of speech before, say, 9.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 2:23 PM
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37

At almost any other site on the Internets we'd be knee-deep in Snow Crash by now.


Posted by: Kriston | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 2:55 PM
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38

Orwell is much closer to the subject at hand that anything in Snow Crash. First someone has to assert that we all share the same basic underlying concepts or machinery for such.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 3:03 PM
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39

Gibson has an in-built audience of millions now. He's just testing how far he can take them.


Posted by: ogmb | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 3:21 PM
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40

Snow Crash is at best ankle deep. Discuss?


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 4:22 PM
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41

I understand Mel's next move is to dub "Attack Force Z" into Swahili and show it with subtitles translated back into English, restoring it to his original vision. Genius, I tell you - genius!


Posted by: Isle of Toads | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 4:45 PM
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42

Amusing Defamer comment:

Look, when you've got $600 million of Passion of the Christ fuck-you money, you can make a black-and-white documentary about nymphomaniac donkeys overdubbed in Klingon if you feel like it. If anything, Mel Gibson's choice to go Mayan feels a little bit safe.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 4:48 PM
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Re: the Defamer comment in 42: I guess I'm just kind of disappointed in how Gibson's blowing his fuck-you money. I figured he'd use it to finance a gigantic apocalypse movie, three hours of fire-breathing Revenge Jesus spraying the gore of pagan evildoers all over Armageddon. That's the real sequel to The Passion; this is just a derivative stab at the language gimmick again.


Posted by: Isle of Toads | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 4:56 PM
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You're right. A three-part, nine-hour epic of Jesus hunting down and killing every single Roman soldier would be more Gibsonian, and do better box office.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 4:58 PM
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45

I hope you meant to write "do better at the box office"; unfortunately, the phrase "do better box office" is all too plausible.

No doubt in time it will be shortened to "do better box", and then just "do box", as in, "how much box can John Holmes do?".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 5:01 PM
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46

I wrote what I intended, though I did intend it with some ironic distance. It's a fairly common formulation. You're probably right about the trend.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 5:04 PM
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47

Note to Mel:

Just because no one understands you doesn't make you an artist.


Posted by: Juicy | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 6:26 PM
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48

I go away for a while to have a professional breakdown and there are all these new commenters. Cool. But, quietly, Kriston is still having a very good thread here.

$600 million seems about the right amount to do a 6 part "Left Behind" series, complete with everything that made Battle Field Earth so special. But since Tim La Haye isn't a Catholic who recants Vatican II and, I think, Rerum Novarum, or whatever, he's probably going to hell.


Posted by: benton | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 7:01 PM
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49

I hope the breakdown went well, benton.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 07-26-05 7:03 PM
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50

Any chance he'll accidentally hire a bunch of Zapatista extras who'll put the project under workers' control?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 07-27-05 3:25 AM
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51

Mel is probably thinking, hey, you've got yours and I've got Mayan.


Posted by: Gaijin Biker | Link to this comment | 07-27-05 8:52 AM
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