Thursday, August 06, 2015

(Spoilers) Fun Fact: Kill Bill 2 and Mandarin

***SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers may be found in the post below about VARIOUS ITEMS. And I'm going to add in a bit of filler text here to limit how much of the main article gets shown in a preview. That should take care of most of it. Hopefully. And away we go. SPOILER WARNING. ***

The first Kill Bill movie was an instant hit with me the first time I saw it on television. Blood, guts, Samurai swords, mid-movie anime, Japan, what not to like? Then I saw the second one and didn't care for the first one anymore. Okay, not really, but the second movie was something else and I loved it from start to end, especially its music. Can't believe the movies have been out for over a decade now. But that's not why I'm writing this.

There's a scene around the middle of the movie that is a look back at how the Bride (Uma Thurman) learned some of her fighting ability. It's the segment with Pai Mei. More specifically, there's an interesting bit I noticed when the Bride first meets Pai Mei and he starts questioning her.

Cantonese, Mandarin, Chinese, what?
In that scene, Pai Mei speaks Cantonese the entire time, unless I missed something. Something always felt off about the words that came out of Uma Thurman's mouth. I thought that she would be replying back in the same language being spoken to her, but it didn't sound like the Cantonese that Pai Mei was speaking. Not being a Mandarin or Japanese speaker at the time, I assumed I was missing something or her pronunciation was off.

Then I started learning Mandarin a while ago at a very very slow space -- I still suck -- well after I saw Kill Bill 2 a bunch of times. I hadn't watched the movie in a while so didn't really remember this observation until recently. It was interesting to go back and watch that scene again with a basic understanding of Mandarin.

For example, I noticed her saying (not proper pinyin), "wo speak Japanese hun hao." The onscreen translation or subtitle wasn't bad. My translation with my basic Mandarin ability would be, "I speak Japanese well," and she supposedly demonstrated that in the first movie extensively. It turned out to be a mix of Mandarin and English integrated into a single sentence.

Being a terrible speaker of a few languages other than English, I have very regularly done this mid-sentence substitution while maintaining the accents of both languages perfectly. It's done due to my limited vocabulary in the non-English languages -- there's usually no thinking or delay involved in the transition, just an immediate admittance of defeat.

The real giveaway should have been the Bride's repeated utterings of the word "bu." That just translates to "no" in Mandarin -- it would be "mm" if it were Cantonese.

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