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"It starts with language"

Posted on 2009.03.08 at 10:57
I guess I should've put this in the post I wrote last night, as it's also related to language and this is in a commercial from the government. I'm sorry, but it was three AM by the time I wrote that. This is one of a series of commercial from the national government (I've looked around on the site and it seemed like there was at least one more but the videos won't play for me -- nm, I found the others) which are meant to highlight the need for L2-speakers to have enough of a grasp on the language to get by in daily life, but mostly manage to show an obstacle no L2-speaker can avoid themselves: the asshole native speaker who doesn't in any way attempt to make themselves clearer.

Asshole: So you want to work at the hospital again, mister Youssuf? As a nurse1 or as a doctor?
Mr. Youssuf: I2 one brother3 one two sister4 but [can't make this out] I want to work5 in hospital.
Asshole: Yes, I know, but as a nurse6 or as a doctor?
Mr. Youssuf: [can't make this out again] My brother not a doctor, my brother is a cook. He work. I want work7 as well!
Stupid Commercial Narrator: It's hard to explain what kind of work you want when you don't speak the language!

I think my little army of footnotes makes it clear I don't this is any kind of realistic portayal of someone with only a basic grasp of the language (and that Asshole is, in fact, an asshole). It should be possible, dear government, to make the point you want to make without resorting to a caricature of a second language learner.

1 For an extra layer of fail... I noticed when translating that I wasn't even sure if the word they use ("broeder" lit. brother but in this case nurse) referred to a nurse or a paramedic, so I asked my brother, who didn't immediately know either. We're native speakers. You go, government! I should add that broeder isn't even the preferred term for nurse, which is the much more gender neutral "verpleger" (caretaker).
2 He uses the informal form of this pronoun, ikke instead of ik, which as far as I can recall I've never heard an L2-speaker use in this way, because it's used by kids and in extremely informal contexts (because it reads a bit childishly).
3 Using the full form "broeder" instead of the reduced form "broer" is as ridiculously formal as "ikke" is informal.
4 Here we do get the reduced form "zus"...
5 My doubts that beginning L2-speakers would get both the modals and the word order right to this degree given Mr. Youssuf's fictional (lack of) proficiency, let me show you them!
6 Despite both the nonstandardness of this word for nurse and the obvious misunderstanding (which are probably linked, at that), Asshole keeps using "broeder" and doesn't even bother to clarify.
7 Not sure if this is supposed to be a noun or a verb. If it's a noun, it's another perfectly formed clause which seems out of place considering the scripted mess the rest of his Dutch is. If it's a verb, the mistake makes no damn sense even considering the stupidity with regard to the rules of Dutch the makers of this thing have already shown.

I just listened to another one. This one is a kid's school mentor mentioning his trouble in Math class to the kid's mother, who first confuses the "concern" ("care", in Dutch) with "caretaking" and his trouble to follow Maths ("to come with"), with a schooltrip. No transcript this time, and no Asshole either, but again "hilarious" but IMO completely unrealistic misunderstandings crop up between the teacher and the mother.

So. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that linguistically speaking, these commercials make no sense at all.


(Deleted comment)
mirabilelectu at 2009-03-08 13:52 (UTC) (Link)
Stereotype idioten in slechte reclames van de overheid blijkbaar! Ik bedoel, hoe kríjgen ze het voor elkaar om zo'n elementair concept alsnóg compleet verkeerd te presenteren?!

(Niet tegenstaande dat de overheid in deze nogal vaak faalt. ><)
omarm_me at 2009-03-08 13:34 (UTC) (Link)
Ik vind dat ook zo'n irritante reclame...
mirabilelectu at 2009-03-08 13:53 (UTC) (Link)
Echt, hè?

Ik was echt even sprakeloos toen ik deze hoorde. (Misschien nog eens extra omdat ik kan beredeneren waaróm er niks van klopt?)
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