Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Language/2011 October 26

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October 26[edit]

Swedish pronunciation[edit]

Does this pronunciation of Raoul Wallenberg sound right, in particular the trailing off at the end without a distinct "g" sound? Clarityfiend (talk) 04:42, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I don't know about the correctness, but it does have a distinct "g" - but it's [ɣ] rather than the American 'hard' [ɡ], and difficult for a native English speaker to pick up on. At a glance with Swedish phonology, it looks about right. Lsfreak (talk) 05:00, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
wikt:berg has a recording of somebody saying berg in Swedish.  Card Zero  (talk) 07:01, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
Clarityfiend, as far as I'm concerned, it sounds perfectly correct. The last part is heard as Swedish pronunciation: [ˈ-.-ˌbærj]. In Swedish, syllable-final -rg and -lg are realised as [rj] and [lj], cf. e.g. Björn Borg. (The IPA symbol [j] = the "y" in English "youth" and "yacht".) Also, the Swedish vowel /ɛ/ (as in English "beg") is realised allophonically as [æ] (as in "back") when it precedes an /r/, including when, in most varieties of the language, the combination of /r/ plus a dental consonant produces a retroflex realisation of the latter. Hope that helps. --Theurgist (talk) 10:20, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
[j]umpin' [j]iminy. Thanks to you both. Clarityfiend (talk) 02:03, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

Simpsons in French, Marie Curie[edit]

In the episode "Lisa's Sax", Homer asks Marge to name someone who ever lived without air conditioning. She says "Balzac", and he thinks she is being rude, which is pretty funny in English. In the French version, the dialogue is otherwise basically the same, but Marge says "Curie". I didn't get it, and some French colleagues that I asked about it thought that the joke had just been lost in translation. Is there anything particularly rude about "Curie"? Is it supposed to remind of us "cul", the word for "ass"? Adam Bishop (talk) 15:13, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure in French the sound of the "u" in Curie is quite distinct from the sound of the "u" in "cul", which would make it unlikely that the two would be confused. The Balzac (ball sack, aka scrotum) joke is quite obvious in English; perhaps the French translators completely missed it, and made a random substitution to the name. --Jayron32 15:20, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
Actually, it is the same phoneme: /kyri/ and /ky/ (the l is not pronounced). Possibly "(mon) cul rit", "(my) ass laughs" (??). Another possibility is "curry", but I'm not sure how this would be taken as rude. Lesgles (talk) 16:24, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
See, when I hear them said, I hear the glide coloring the vowel in each case. The U in "curie" sounds more r-colored, and the u in "cul" has an l-color to it (though, as happens in french, the l is not actually pronounced). But you may be right. It may be a pun on "ass laugh", that sorta works, but I don't know if a native speaker would find the pun too "strained"; the Balzac pun is much more natural in English... --Jayron32 16:53, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
I don't have access to the audio, but cul rit and Curie would normally have slightly different pronunciations. Cul rit would have a little more stress on the first syllable (or maybe the first syllable would be a little longer or both) than Curie. I'm guessing that Lisa gives Cu- added emphasis. I do think it's a bit more contrived than Balzac in English, since cul rit is not a phrase that would normally occur in French, though it is similar to Balzac in being the sort of thing that 12-year-olds find hilarious. Marco polo (talk) 17:44, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
Ah, it's still hilarious...I had to explain the joke to my French colleagues and I couldn't stop laughing at it (but I guess that was more because of having to explain what a "ball sac" is). I can't find video/audio online, but here is a transcription of the episode, if that helps. Adam Bishop (talk) 18:07, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
I am reminded obliquely of the time, when we were in the "Animals" chapter of my French class in High School, how much amusement we had in getting our French teacher to tell us what "seal" was in French. Still gives me chuckles. --Jayron32 18:14, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
"Phoque"? That reminds me, a French-speaking co-worker blushed when she saw the name of Grand Teton National Park. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 11:43, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Were they surprised when it wasn't a topless beach? --Jayron32 16:45, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
She simply exclaimed, "I can't believe they named it that!" I opined that the explorers who named it had been away from home for a long time, and their imaginations were probably working overtime. ←Baseball Bugs What's up, Doc? carrots→ 22:39, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Agree with all above. It was the translator's attempt to find something similar, doesn't work nearly so well, but then you can't find a good translation for every joke. Some viewers will have followed it, others will have missed it, but then there is enough entertaining stuff in every Simpsons episode even if you miss the odd joke. Itsmejudith (talk) 18:24, 26 October 2011 (UTC)