Thursday, April 30, 2009

Parlez-Vous Italiano? No.

If I have one major regret it would be my lack of skills in the language department. I'd be considered an average Dhivehi speaker, at best, and have no foreign language skills.

Understanding Hindi because I, as most Maldivians, have been exposed to Hindi/Indian films from a very young age does not count and neither does having a very basic understanding of Singhala (Sinhalese?!?!) and Bahasa Malaysia.

Okay, I am better than average at English, BUT that's mostly due to the fact that it was almost our first language – I mean except for Dhivehi and Islam we were taught everything in English so I really didn't have an excuse to suck at it (although a lot of our recent graduates strive to prove me wrong). Plus, while I was growing up there weren't really any Dhivehi stories for all demographics – none as diverse, in genre and subject matter, as those in English anyway.

Movie poster for 'Les quatre cents coups'

So here I am, three decades in... finding out to my utter frustration, that I like foreign films and authors better than their local/English equivalent... well actually I've known for quite a while now that I appreciate foreign films... well before I reached the three decade mark but... [moving on]

Films the likes of Malèna (2000) [Italian], Cinema Paradiso (1988) [Italian], Les quatre cents coups (1959) [French], Nueve reinas (2000) [Spanish], 36 Quai des Orfèvres (2004) [French]... are just the tip of the iceberg and would easily put any of their Hollywood counterparts to shame.

Then there are the more recent discoveries; Haruki Murakami and Gabriel García Márquez. Though I've so far read very little, a handful of Murakami and just the one García Márquez, these authors are so far off the typical 'reservation' that it makes no sense that I like them – but I do, immensely!

García Márquez's 'Memories Of My Melancholy Whores' 
(2004; English translation 2005)

I read English translations of the books and switch on the subtitles for the films and experience everything 'second hand' (I abhor switching the audio to English – the voice overs almost always lack the feeling and the emotion of the original performers). Yet they're ever so gratifying and I'm left to wonder if it could have been more so – and what was lost in translation...

For those of you who can enjoy such stories in their original form, I envy you... and hope that you're partaking in some of those exquisite pleasures...

And for the rest of us, who are well past their prime to learn that many languages, we'll happily take what we can get... because they are that good.


Anonymous said...

Lost in translation? :)

aindhy said...

Hmmm didn't think the post would be... heh heh heh