Alethea & Athena (double_dear) wrote,
Alethea & Athena

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Dialect study

Well, we watched the Princess and the Frog again. Our opinion of it still basically stands. This time our main goal was to listen to how Tiana talks so we could use it for writing a dialect, and so we were really paying attention. Dialects, I have decided, are really the hardest thing to translate. Other translators will say it's comedy, but they're wrong.

Okay, I have to admit that we all have different talents, so for other translators, comedy might actually be the hardest thing, but I think dialects probably really are, and here's why. Even native speakers of a language don't know all the ins and outs of the non-standard dialect. Just ask anybody about Dick Van Dyke's Cockney accent, and you will know this is true. And so, here we are, non-native Japanese speakers, first having to identify a dialect, then having to figure out what that dialect means for character voice, then having to choose a dialect in our native English, and then having to figure out how to accurately write that non-standard dialect. And as California girls, we, like, totally only know, like, valley girl, or some junk. And frankly, we mostly steal our valley girl dialect from Shirley the Loon in Tiny Toons.

And the reason I'm thinking about this again is that we actually got called out on a dialect by our editor. We try very hard to not be wrong, but sometimes we just can't avoid it. Most of the time when this happens, our editors just quietly correct us and we never know about it, but when it comes to something that's going to be ongoing, they have to let us know. But this time it was actually kind of fascinating, because, I think based on the image we had of the character from the context of the story, we assumed she was using a Kyoto dialect. We Googled a couple of her lines and confirmed. But when our editor read it, it read as just a regular Kansai dialect. So she checked with a native of Kyoto, who said it sounded like a borderline Kyoto/regular Kansai dialect, and now nobody's sure what to do with this girl. I'm mostly just intrigued by the reminder that really only dialect experts and native speakers of the dialect can fully identify dialects.

So we just decided to make the dialect not too thick. And we said, "How about something like Tiana from The Princess and the Frog?" And our editor said, "!!! That's perfect!" So we pulled out the Blu-ray, had adventures with our Blu-ray player...and learned that Tiana actually doesn't talk that much. That one study? survey? that some people did a while back where they counted all the lines spoken by women versus lines spoken by men in the Disney princess movies was not kidding. I mean, it's counting, so it's not like it's exactly open to interpretation. I keep wanting to say to that study that they should go back and count the lines in the older Disney movies, because surely in Sleeping Beauty, most of the lines are spoken by women. And there were a lot more female characters...heck, there were a lot more characters in general. The casts of these movies are getting smaller and smaller...

Anyway! Here's what we learned about Tiana's dialect: she drops every G on -ing, once she said ain't, and she says Imma (I'm going to). The rest is all intonation. That shouldn't be too hard to write, at least. Oh! and she said "reckon" and "thank you kindly." And her parents are Momma and Daddy. At any rate, it shouldn't be too hard to get right. (I don't think she said "y'all" once, but everybody else said it a bunch, so we're going to use it (where appropriate of course).)

Today I'm thankful for getting to watch The Princess and the Frog again, getting to go out for Joe's Italian Ice with our friend, having perhaps ill-advised plans to continue our experimentation with a Disneyland office this week (it's semi-responsible; we wanted to go anyway, so we'll just bring work with us!), Keith David's amazing voice, and good ensemble numbers.
Tags: language geekiness, the princess and the frog

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