March 22, 2004


I resisted DVDs for a long time, thinking they were yet another ephemeral bit of consumer fluff. I bought my first one last year, and can only play them in my computers. But I have to say that DVDs are actually quite nice from a linguistic point of view. I recently rented a movie called Musa The Warrior. The title is some sort of mistake. musa is just a transliteration of Korean 무사, which in Chinese characters is 武士. It means "warrior", so the English title should be just "The Warrior". I don't know why they doubled it up this way. It makes it sound like it is about an Arab warrior named Moses. But I digress.

The neat thing about this movie, which was a joint Chinese/Korean production, is that you can listen to it in either Korean or Cantonese, and you can get subtitles in Korean, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, or English. DVD's have the huge advantage over videotape of allowing the viewer to choose from multiple sound tracks and subtitles. This not only caters to a linguistically diverse audience, it is terrific for language learners. In this case, the variety is a result of the joint production together with the recognition that adding English will greatly increase the market. I hope the studios will take the trouble to provide a variety of languages more often now that the technology exists.

P.S. It's a good movie. It's about a Korean embassy to Tang China that is not accorded diplomatic status but instead is imprisoned in Western China. The Koreans attempt to escape and get back to Korea. It features authentic-looking costumes and scenery, martial arts, a beautiful Chinese princess... What more could you want?

Posted by Bill Poser at March 22, 2004 10:59 PM