5/18/2006

Carrie Doolittle

A very amusing title for today's King of Queens-episode: It 's an allusion to the classic My Fair Lady, where Audrey Hepburn stars as Eliza Doolittle, who is educated by Professor Higgins, a language teacher. He takes a bet that he will succeed in turning 'commoner' Eliza, a flower girl, into a distinguished upper class lady.

Key to this 'metamorphosis' according to Prof. Higgins is a refined way of socializing and communicating. This main theme is gently modified in today's KoQ's episode: Since Carrie prepares herself for a promotion, her supervisor recommends she work on her pronunciation in order to leave a better impression on the board members. In that very camera take her supervisor informs Carrie of her less than brilliant choice of words, in fact critizing her strong language and frequent use of swear words. Later on this is somehow being mixed up with pronunciation or rather a matter of accent.

In brief, this episode transports and modifies the classic's original idea that both register as well as the absence of an accent are markers for social status. This would be an interesting thesis in its own right, however, as we're mainly concerned with language issues here, I particularly liked the way how this was translated to German. With regard to strong language, this was a fairly easy task to accomplish, as most English words found their way into German as well (and won't get translated).

The bigger challenge was on the accent side of things and here, synch editors and translators found interesting solutions. E.g. they had Doug's Mom Janet pronounce "Kaffee" as something like "'Ka-ffä", attempting to make her speak carelessly with sloppy pronunciation. I was itching to hear the original version at this point, for it would have been interesting to know, whether they had speak Carrie with an Italo-American accent, where 'coffee' becomes 'cawffie' with a long vowel sound in the middle, even more so since we know that Carrie's character is performed by Leah Remini, who is indeed of Italo-American descent (half Italian, half Russian according to imdb.com.) Later into the episode, virtually every main character of the TV show is giving proof of their poor use of language.

On the other hand, a British accent is always considered a sign of good education and this part must have gone to character Spence this time, as he teaches Carrie proper pronunciation. Again, German synchronization transported this nicely by overdoing articulation to a silly degree.

Those guys - in contrast to many of our below examples - really know their jobs!

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