So I get YouTube “top most viewed” RSS feed in my Bloglines- it’s very entertaining, and keeps you up on the latest silly amateur videos. I am reading this Russian thread “Кто мог бы быть президентом?” – “ktoh- mog boy boyt prezedentum” “who should be (more like can) president” on a movie with Putin quoting some interesting idioms, and realizing that this YouTube feed is always in multiple languages. I’m at that point sometimes where I slightly blip on the “oh this is in Russian” but mostly just read it to myself. So I was thinking: this is one of those weird polyglot communities, like a hostel, or a bar at a touristy spot. Kind of the common-man’s UN.
For a while, during World Cup, there were a ton of choice soccer moments – broadcaster’s voices in Spanish, French, or Portugese. Then, there was that Japanese comedian who was fired- and many little translations were in the comments. Then, of course, the Bus Uncle (one of my all time favorite YouTube moments)- the guy who was captured on a cell phone haranguing this young guy. He’s now famous, and has his own Wikipedia entry, of course.
But what all these translations provide is a kind of polyglot merging. We don’t need language sometimes with YouTube. I listened to Entourage in French for a while… it got annoying but it was pretty comical. I end up depending on the nuances of idioms and the translations in the comments, mostly because these videos are funny, and humor requires knowledge of double-meanings and things beyond my crappy intermediary knowledge. I like the Russian comment, translating the idiom “taking chestnuts out of the fire” – nobody wants good things that have been spoiled. It’s kind of the essence of why I like learning different languages- you get these insights into how other people have thought of concepts… like an English idiom would be “spilt milk” or “you don’t buy the cow after you’ve milked it”… wait, that means something entirely different, ha… but not really, now that I think of it.