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QUACKCAST 548 - Foreign Influence

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Sept. 14, 2021

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Translating cultural concepts so they can be understood in a different country can be really tricky, most people never bother. Often the audience is just left to guess what's behind certain concepts and idioms.
As an Australian, growing up as a little kid we were bombarded by media from everywhere, but mainly Britain, the USA, Canada and New Zealand. There was so much about American media that was utterly alien to us and we were just left to puzzle it out, especially American high school concepts: The level of seriousness with which they regard team sports in schools, cheerleaders, jocks, jockstraps, school kids driving cars, homecoming, pep rallies, summer camp, proms, tick or treating, thanksgiving… We just had to make sense of those things ourselves. Some we could work out from context but others I never really understood and never really will.

Tantz tells us a bit about how she translates concepts from her Greek WW2 comic Without Moonlight to be understood by an English speaking audience and we all have a chatter about things we see in the media from other cultures that we just don't really get, but mainly from the USA since Tantz, Banes, are not from the US, only Pitface and she wasn't IN this Quackcast!

What are the cultural concepts in media from different countries that you don't get?

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Speaking in Tongues - A lonely and delicate piano rises out of the shadows to paint an intricate and pretty picture with sound. Backed by gentle synthesised strings, it swirls and rises like a tiny new vine, weaving its way up towards the light.

Topics and shownotes


Featured comic:
The Last Aviatrix -

Featured music:
Speaking in Tongues - - by Quinn O Matic, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Tantz Aerine -
Ozoneocean -
Banes -
Kawaiidaigakusei -

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bravo1102 at 1:03PM, Sept. 14, 2021

You'd be very surprised to find out just how much of the language you take for granted is colloquial that doesn't translate. I worked for years with a Cuban who had been in the country thirty years but I was always explaining English phrases he'd never heard before. He carried around a notebook to write everything down to improve his English. And yes, there are American Spanish speaking cultures that have all kinds of idioms and even slang that is unintelligible to other native speakers (Dominicans especially) As for the whole US high school culture, I'm from the USA and went to HS here and I don't understand some things because they're regional and not native to where I went to HS. Kevin Smith movies are closest because it's only a county over, but I was a local for the Jersey Shore and that's a different subculture too. Now where's my pork roll sandwich or should I go for a Philly cheese steak.

PaulEberhardt at 5:37AM, Sept. 14, 2021

I don't quite know where to start, but the German dubs of TV shows often take pains to be as accurate as possible, and that's not usually a good thing. It created a distinct way of talking that nobody uses, neither here nor in America. An advanced translation course I took years ago suggested I should just explain anything that doesn't exist in the other culture, which is Ok for rather technical, academical texts but makes it quite unreadable for any normal well-balanced person. As a result, I usually rewrite my dialogues from scratch when doing different language versions, acting as if the other didn't exist and in the course somewhat shift my point of view, you know, the way I look at my own very localised setting. I wonder if anyone can tell whether a page of mine was originally thought up in Platt or in English. It's in fact pretty much a 50:50 ratio.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 5:01AM, Sept. 14, 2021

I remember one time when I was watching this american reality show on TV about teaching these nerd-type of guys to get dates, and how one of the segments had these guys running around town (Don't remember which town) and ask women walking on the streets for their phone numbers. To my swedish brain that was a completely alien thing to do, it had to be setup, because that something we swedes would never do. So you can imagine how mindblown I was visiting London one summer vacation and noticing how many Londoners there were that would just randomly walk up to me and say "hi, how are you?". That just doesn't happen where I'm from (pandemic, or no pandemic), which I honestly find kind of depressing.

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