English Movies/TV

Feb 252011

In the movie Red, Bruce Willis speaks a line of Chinese, but I couldn’t figure out what it was (the subtitles in the YouTube clip below don’t seem to match with what he’s saying and the DVD I watched didn’t include anything for this line in the subtitles). After listening a bunch of times, I thought he might be saying 几年前我住 / 幾年前我住 … If that’s right the rest should be 在 somewhere, but it doesn’t sound like 在 and the place doesn’t sound like anything obvious like 中国 / 中國 or 香港. The line comes in the context of a surprising reference to the Harvard Yenching Classification System (for cataloging library books). I was sorry that the characters did not actually go to the Harvard Yenching Library, but I do not believe filming is allowed there in any case. Update: 谢谢 to commenter Tima for clarifying that the place where Bruce Willis’ character said he lived was 武汉 / 武漢 … [read more]

Feb 112011
More Chinese on The Simpsons

Those of you who follow @zhongwebchinese on Twitter may have seen our Chinese New Year tweet, which included a link to a YouTube clip of Homer Simpson saying 恭喜发财 / 恭喜發財 gōngxǐ fācái. I just saw another Simpsons episode with a bit of Chinese, this time a visual. While Lenny is singing the song “Thank You for Being a Friend,” the word for “friend” in a number of languages appears on a screen behind him. One of the words is 友 yǒu as in 朋友 péngyou. Read on to view the whole clip (although there’s not really more to see than in the pic), and the 恭喜发财 clip, if you missed the tweet. Pages: 1 2

Dec 222010

 Mentioned in a couple of Tweets a while ago, the BBC series Sherlock uses “Hangzhou” numerals (a nearly-obsolete Chinese system of writing numbers) as a key plot point in the episode “The Blind Banker.” These are more properly called “Suzhou” numerals. You can read all about them, including about the naming issue, on Wikipedia. Although I found the series enjoyable generally, it wasn’t particularly culturally sensitive to the Chinese in that episode. “The Blind Banker” – Sherlock: Series 1 on iTunes Sherlock: Series 1 on iTunes

Oct 212010
Three Delivery

Three Delivery is an American cartoon for older children (rated Y7) set in an American Chinatown. It features three teenagers who have been taught kung fu by their adoptive grandmother so that they can re-assemble a magical cookbook and protect it from their grandmother’s former friend, now turned evil nemesis. The show does not overtly try to teach Chinese, but the characters do say the occasional word or phrase and you can pick up a bit by watching it. For example, an older brother frequently addresses his younger sister as 妹妹 mèimèi. There are also a good number of signs and things written with traditional characters. The plots also tend to involve items of cultural significance, such as terra-cotta warriors (兵马俑 / 兵馬俑 bīngmǎyǒng). The show has a nice website (unfortunately, Flash-based) that incorporates a lot of written Chinese; for example during the inevitable wait for the Flash to load, we get … [read more]