September 05, 2005

an observation of overwhelming nerdiness

this will seem like the most ridiculous post ever.

so i were watchin' that shithole of a film from 2003, timeline, based on michael crichton's book of the same name. (nota bene: while orson scott card may be a homophobic motherfucker, his 1996 novel pastwatch: the redemption of christopher columbus (ISBN 0312850581) is both a plausible & interesting exploration of tampering with time.)

anyway, so these hoes go back to 1357 france to a place they call "castlegard". it's the site of conflict between english and french forces, and Our Modern Travelers rapidly find themselves in trouble.

trouble is, this work of fiction works about as hard as the makers of stargate to make real cultures of the past come alive in an accurate manner. unlike, say, such "realistic" films as the star trek series - and i am a trekkie, don't get me wrong -, which has elaborately-constructed alien cultures with their own linguist-built artificial languages, and which franchise is scrupulously criticised for accuracy to these invented norms despite the fact that it was never intended to be "accurate".

what am i bitching about, then?

okay. first, when the archaeologists go back to 1357 france, they are anglophones (scottish, mostly), so take a native french colleague to translate for them. first, this is stupid. the archaeologists are so obsessed that they made and use their own period-accurate bows and swords in their free time to explore the experience of medieval battle and obsess over recreating the past in their minds, yet they never learnt to speak any french?

but let's put that aside for the truly idiotic issue, the one that makes me batshit crazy: in 1357, the english spoke french just like the french did. sure, their french was a distinct dialect known (somewhat incorrectly) as anglo-norman(d), but they spoke french. second, the "english" had significant possessions in what is now modern france, and would have much truck with locals. in short, most were francophones in a francophone country (normandy/brittany and gascony).

second issue: neither the english nor the french of 1357 would be comprehensible to speakers of modern versions of these languages. yes, i'm fucking anal-retentive - maybe. but is it so fucking outlandish to expect that a movie where they build a medieval keep and equip the characters with real weapons - trebuchet, armour, weapons, etc. - they might make an effort to make our ancient ancestors speak french & english at least imitatively appropriately archaic?

i mean, jesus. archaeologists can't read ancient french without classwork in it. it's fucked up. it didn't have modern sounds in it. and english of the same period was just plain insane. there would have been no way they could have been understood by either side.

so here's my observation: we are so xenophobic we'd rather hear a fake language used with subtitles than actually hear a real foreign language with subtitles.

so fuck you all. i'm cranky now. i hate misused languages in films. it makes me crazy.

final note: the spellcheck program for livejournal makes me annoyed because 1. it doesn't accept commonwealth spellings of english (like criticise and 2. it doesn't have the word trebuchet. what kinda stupid-ass spellcheck doesn't include trebuchet? it's a crucial word! critical! used frequently!

addition/edit follows:

they were totally unclear on where "castlegard" was located, so i was even giving them the benefit of the doubt that the "french" would have spoken a langue d'oïl; apparently, it's worse than i imagined. if this took place in the southern region, the "english" would speak the langue d'oïl called "anglo-norman(d)" with the hoi polloi rabble speaking early lengua d'òc old guascon and early middle english; the "french" would speak only lengua d'òc old guascon!

No comments: