Thursday, April 30, 2015

If you're going to record classic literature ....

You should at least know how to pronounce the names. This recording butchers a classic poem. The reader can't pronounce the Native American names and he never bothered to find the correct pronunciation of Michigan. This is a fail.

Americans can successfully read aloud English and Scots poems. Englishmen almost never get American or Canadian poems right. Shame!


An occasional reader said...

Hmmm - the problem can go in two directions. Think of Dick Van Dyke doing his cockney accent in Mary Poppins...

Although perhaps the Sherman Brothers' lyrics don't count as poetry.

I think the problem is that, if you are American, you can tell the slightest flaw in a "foreigner" trying one of your accents. But equally, if you are a Brit, an American trying a British accent can be just as off-putting, albeit unnoticed by an American audience that has no reason to be able to tell the difference.

Ultimately, some actors on both sides of the pond can cut it - and some just can't.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I'm not picking on the man's accent. I'm focused on his pronunciation. Michigan is pronounced Mish ee gan. He pronounces it with the hard "ch" as in 'church.' It's Oh JIB way, not that mess that comes out of his mouth. I don't care if he says those words with an accent, as long as the basic pronunciation is correct. He didn't check the pronunciation.

Mary Popins was meant to be a parody. Dreadful movie anyway, and a very stupid book before that. No-one expected a perfect accent from van Dyke. Besides, the issue here is basic pronunciation. And I didn't raise the issue of his flawed meter.

I'm fairly certain Robert and Richard Sherman didn't write British poetry - mostly because they were American born. So van Dyke didn't misread anything British.

An occasional reader said...

Well, we could discuss where accent ends and strange pronunciation begins – shades of the Gershwin Brothers “you say to-may-toe and I say to-mah-toe” as warbled by Fred and Ginger – but it is more fun to switch the focus and look at parodies of Hiawatha – from Lewis Caroll to Jerome K Jerome. My favourite is:

He killed the noble Mudjokivis.
Of the skin he made him mittens,
Made them with the fur side inside,
Made them with the skin side outside.
He, to get the warm side inside,
Put the inside skin side outside;
He, to get the cold side outside,
Put the warm side fur side inside.
That ’s why he put the fur side inside,
Why he put the skin side outside,
Why he turned them inside outside.

Harry H said...

I'm going to stay out of this because I don't like tomatoes anyway.

An occasional reader said...

Well, rather than flying off on a tangent on whether Harry prefers pot-tah-toes or pot-tay-toes... I took a moment and actually tried to listen to this reading of Hiawatha, and then realized from whence it came. So I can sympathise with Rachael’s critique.

This is a company that produces free talking books – both the books and the recordings are classed as in the public domain. Amateur readers can volunteer to read – and do. You could volunteer. I could volunteer. Anybody, the good, the bad and the ugly, can volunteer. On occasion some unscrupulous person will print them out on CDs and sell them on eBay – I was once caught out buying readings of rare Jerome K Jerome materials that had never been recorded before. They came from this same company and were execrable. I almost volunteered to do them all again for them, but fortunately for the ears of the world – the moment passed.

The only thing of interest was the introduction, which should have been a warning on how the poem was going to be read. But the reader claimed to be descended from Native Americans on his father’s side. So he loved the poem.

But at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. And for a freebie, caveat emptor.

I still like the parody though. Apparently, punching it in on Google, it evolved from an American parody called the Song of Milkandwatha.

Griffin said...

Americans pronounce Welsh place names

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I have tender feelings toward the Welsh. They should throw off the oppressive English yoke. But...Welsh place names aren't classic literature.

Griffin said...

I should add that I am English and that I have been married to a Welsh girl for 44 years.

Her name is Sue. I am constitutionally incapable of pronouncing her name the way the Welsh say it.

This annoys her.

So I have to fall back to referring to her as 'You there!'.

Unfortunately, 'you' is pronounced in the same obscure Welsh way as 'Sue' - so that doesn't cut it either.

The net result is that while (like you) I too have tender feelings towards the Welsh, I am frequently accused of having an oppressive attitude - as in 'You there, where's my dinner'.

I'm sure that you can sympathise with my predicament....

An occasional reader said...

There’s a “Welsh” joke that does the rounds here in Wales. Someone has collapsed in the street in Pontypridd (which is pronounced Pontypreeth by the way) and a passerby phones the emergency services. “Where are calling from?” he’s asked. “I’m in Gelliwasted Street” comes the answer. Back comes the emergency services: “How do you spell that?” There is a long silence, and then: “Just wait a minute while I drag him round into Taff Street…”

Ideally, you need to tell it in a Merthyr Valleys accent.

The Welsh are just as good as self-deprecation in humor as the English.

An occasional reader said...

It is straying somewhat from the verbal massacre of Hiawatha, but Griffin’s comment brought back some memories. 44 years? Wow. Is it really that long ago when as a little boy of 6 I filmed the whole proceedings? And some of us were thin, and some of us were hirsute...

Griffin said...

@ OR
You do know you've told that "joke" about Taff Street on here before?

I know, 'cos I came back with the sort of riposte Harry apprciates.

Funny how I remembered my comment more than I recalled the joke.

So why do people repeat themselves? Here's a few insights: one reason is that people feel ignored, they’re just not being heard. But there’s a short list of other reasons: Narcissism. They just love the sound of their voice. Lack of preparation. Unsure of their point, saying things a few times might help them get to one. Forgetfulness. As they get older or have more on their minds, they simply lose track and that’s just part of life. Dominance. If words are the nails, they’re their hammer swinging away.

So take your pick.

Of one or more....

None of the above are true of moi, of course - which is why I didn't add my comment to your "joke"......AGAIN!

An occasional reader said...

What? Repeat myself? Moi?

Hmmm. When you get to my age three things to start to happen...

First your memory starts to go...

And the other two I can’t remember...

And I know, I KNOW, I’ve told THAT one before TOO.

But at least I had the good sense to dump my original idea to respond in the style of a bad parody of Hiawatha...

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