Freitag, 7. September 2012

The 13th Warrior

I apologize beforehand, but this is going to be a bit of a rant... Comments and differing views are of course welcome! ;)

Source: Wikipedia

I was watching the movie "The 13th Warrior" the other day. Not wanting to evaluate the movie or the story, there are some things I just have to say, because it's just so... impossible not to say anything about them as a language professional.

At the beginning of the movie, there is an older man acting as interpreter for the Arab hero who encounters a group of northmen. After failed attempts at Arabic and Greek, this man is able to communicate with one of the northmen in Latin. Aside from the fact, that I would really like  to know where that man learned Latin, the level at which these two are able to communicate and share not only basic information but entire complicated conversations, including an oracle, is really rather mind-boggling. 

As the group of 13 warriors - 12 northmen and the Arab hero - travel toward their quest, the interpreter is left behind, and naturally, the hero understands nothing of what the other are saying. None of them even tries talking to him, yet somehow he is able to learn their language perfectly just by listening to them. I mean - yeah, right! If it was that easy, we wouldn't need interpreters anymore or language teachers...

Yes, I understand that this is just a movie and that for the sake of understanding and time, they had to do things in a way that didn't hinder the story. BUT! It just made the movie that much less credible in my eyes (not that it was the best movie I have ever seen, anyway, but that's beside the point). I mean, ok, I can live with them making the conversations understandable for the viewers and all. Even that the hero learned the language quickly and was able to communicate with his team mates is understandable, since otherwise it would have made everything really difficult, but at least they could have had one or two of the northmen try to teach him, for example by pointing out certain things and naming them, by using gestures etc. That is usually how people learn to communicate with each other. But just by listening? Without any explanations, verbal or otherwise? Not likely, no matter how gifted you are! And I don't think it would have made the movie any longer...

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