Tsubaki (tsubaki_ny) wrote in linguaphiles,
Tsubaki
tsubaki_ny
linguaphiles

Adventures in French listening comprehension

I suspect this is an oddball request, but it might not be? [/ waffly intro]

For personal edification (and to brush up for possible graduate study later, is what I tell myself) I’ve set myself a task — I’m trying to transcribe the French-language dub of the film “How to Train Your Dragon.” The given subtitles, more often than not, do not match what the characters are saying.

Thing is, I last studied French in 1992, and last heard French spoken on a regular basis that same year, so my listening comprehension -- never my strongest suit to start with -- has gone to complete crap. I’m confusing “un” and “en” / “C’est” and “cette” /”Ils sont” and “ils ont” humiliatingly often, for example.

Furthermore, in order to match the quirks of the original film, where the children spoke Standard California American and the adults all spoke with a Scottish accent, the French dub has the kids speaking fairly standard (but very slangy and colloquial as far as I can tell) French, while the adults all have the deeply rolled R’s and flatter vowels (I think?) of southern, Languedoc (I think??)-influenced France.

So it’s not impossible, but there are a couple of phrases and things that I simply cannot hear let alone interpret. A couple of times I’m finding myself completely reduced to long strings of phonetics, not even divided up into words. Or entering random syllables into Wordreference.com with my fingers crossed.

I’m constraining myself to one question, for now. THE QUESTION: French speakers, does the following passage make any sense to you? These are the closest approximations I can come up with.

Il n’écoute jamais. Et quand-t-il écoute, c’est toujours avec un... une espèce de front fouine déçu, comme si on avait lésiné sur la viande dans son sandwich."

Or

" Il n’écoute jamais. Et quand-t-il écoute, c’est toujours avec un... une espèce de enfreignait et déçu, comme si on avait lésiné sur la viande dans son sandwich."

(For a while I thought it might be "...un aspect enfreignait et déçu, comme si on avait lésiné sur la viande dans son sandwich." But it isn't.)

That second version seems vaguely better to me, but there’s clearly an R (or an extra unaccented “E”?) sound that the character is making between “de” and “enfreignait” that this transcription is not accounting for. (Plus, wouldn’t he have said “d’enfreignait”? And doesn’t that sentence need some sort of noun???) Could it be just a quirk of the voice actor’s speech?

(In English, to the best of my memory, the line is "He never listens. And when he does listen, it's always with this disappointed expression, like someone skimped on the meat in his sandwich.")


Oh, I feel silly.
Tags: french, vocabulary
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