Lost in Transcription

17 November 2007 at 23:59 1 comment

One of Mark Liberman’s recent language log posts has turned me on to my latest guilty YouTube pleasure: foreign language music videos subtitled with a phonetic transcription of the lyrics that makes some sort of weird sense in another language.

Here for example is the Russian (?) German [so much for my linguistic acuity] group Dschengis Dschinghis Kahn singing their song Moskau, Moskau with the lyrics transcribed into an English-language approximation with lines like “Moscow, Moscow, please respect the caviar!” The “Golden Horde goes to Vegas”-style costumes only add to the appeal.

Liberman’s post contains links to other examples of this emergent video genre, which his informant, Ben Ostrowsky, has christened “Autour-de-mondegreens.” A mondegreen is a misunderstanding of a spoken or sung text. One of the best-known example might be the mishearing of “‘scuse me while I kiss the sky” as “‘scuse me while I kiss this guy.” Note that some of the video links are definitely not work safe.

A pleasant surprise was finding that these sorts of videos have been popular in Sweden where they’re known as “Turkhits.” Swedish Wikipedia provides links to some of the these videos including the most famous, “Hatten är din” (“The Hat is Yours”), a Turkhits version of the Lebanese song “Meen ma Kenty/Habbaytek.”

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Entry filed under: Folklore, Fun, Humor, Language, Music, NaBloPoMo, Sweden.

Friday Fiddle Tune 2 Reason #7854 Why Everything’s Better in Sweden

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