Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Star Wars Prequels Movies

Star Wars Episode 4 To Be Dubbed In Navajo 155

Posted by timothy
from the that-is-one-complicated-language dept.
New submitter Unixnoteunuchs writes "Coming to a theater in Window Rock in the Navajo Nation on July 4, 2013, Star Wars Episode 4 dubbed in the Navajo language. This is the first time a major motion picture has ever been dubbed in a native American language. This effort will help the Navajo nation preserve its cultural heritage in its language, a complex and beautiful Athabaskan tongue heavily reliant on adjectives and compound words. Listen to this article and how 'computer' and 'droid' would translate."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Star Wars Episode 4 To Be Dubbed In Navajo

Comments Filter:
  • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @09:56AM (#43839945)
    Dub in Navajo.

    Show it in Japan.

    Just to piss them off.
  • by Sean_Inconsequential (1883900) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @09:56AM (#43839953)

    How does dubbing a movie that has nothing to do with Navajo culture help preserve Navajo culture? Not trying to troll, I am asking honestly. It seems a bit insulting, the insinuation being that the whole of their culture is distilled down to their native language.

    • by Mystakaphoros (2664209) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @09:59AM (#43839971) Homepage

      How does dubbing a movie that has nothing to do with Navajo culture help preserve Navajo culture? Not trying to troll, I am asking honestly. It seems a bit insulting, the insinuation being that the whole of their culture is distilled down to their native language.

      Not trolling at all-- that's a good question. My thought is that limiting the use of Navajo to the ceremonial marginalizes it to be used only in ritual form. By finding "everyday uses" for it, such as in movies, people form a much more functional use for the language.

      • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @10:03AM (#43840007)

        By finding "everyday uses" for it, such as in movies, people form a much more functional use for the language.

        ". . . may the horse be with you . . . use the horse, Luke, use the horse . . ."

        • by tompaulco (629533) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @10:34AM (#43840383) Homepage Journal

          By finding "everyday uses" for it, such as in movies, people form a much more functional use for the language.

          ". . . may the horse be with you . . . use the horse, Luke, use the horse . . ."

          Despite the popularity of picturing Indians with horses, there were no horses on the American continents until they were brought here by the Europeans.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Despite the popularity of the horseless pre-Columbian era, it is a fact that the ancestors to horses evolved on the American continents:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_the_horse

            • Yes, but your own link points out that they became extinct there 12,000 years ago. The pre-columbians may have eaten horses (and possibly even drove them to extinction), but they never rode them -- horses were first domesticated much later: probably around 4000BC.
            • by Patch86 (1465427)

              And died out in North America 12,000 years ago. Mammoths were common in Europe 12,000 years ago, but they're not exactly a big influence in modern British culture...

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Will Navajo even have words for space ships, robots and laser beams...?

        • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @10:10AM (#43840101)

          Will Navajo even have words for space ships, robots and laser beams...?

          They were able to adapt it for use describing different types of tanks, airplanes, ships, bunkers, machine guns, calling in artillery and air strikes, etc. [wikipedia.org] I think they can do ok.

          • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @10:28AM (#43840315) Homepage

            The problem with translating (eg.) "R2" as "little white metal man who whistles" is that it takes much longer to say.

            When you're dubbing a movie the dialog has to keep up with the action.

            • I never knew "R2" means anything like that in any language. Guess I have to take a few more english classes....

              • by Joce640k (829181)

                I never knew "R2" means anything

                Please hand in your geek card and remove slashdot from your bookmarks. Thankyou.

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              Could they not simply translate it to a letter and number? I am not sure R2 means anything in English.

            • by CastrTroy (595695)
              And yet the French manage to dub movies quite often. Most DVDs in Canada are sold with a French (and often Quebec French) language track. I'm not sure how they manage to do it, seeing as how much longer most of the text on signage and product packaging becomes so much longer when translated.
              • by Joce640k (829181) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @12:09PM (#43841537) Homepage

                I live in Spain and see a lot of dubbed movies and sometimes the Spanish/English dialog is completely different.

                It took me a while to figure out why, ie. because some Spanish translations have simply too many syllables to fit. When this happens they rewrite the dialog to fit.

              • I'm not sure how they manage to do it, seeing as how much longer most of the text on signage and product packaging becomes so much longer when translated.

                Written like someone who's never studied French! A large portion of the letters are silent (also their vowels are pronounced more quickly than in English).

                "Ils nagent" (they swim) is pronounced like "ill naj".

          • Unlike, say, Finnish, where the Finns will typically just take an English or Swedish, Russian, &c word and spin the pronounciation to expand their tongue, the Navajo typically create a new compound word that is a description. This is a rather laborious way to rapidly expand a language. A fun example is the Navajo word for "Dog," ééch'í. That literally means "one who eats poop."

            Outsiders like most of us can't cause a traditional language to adapt. The burden is on the speakers. In this cas

        • Will Navajo even have words for space ships, robots and laser beams...?

          They'd probably pinch a few words from WWII-era code talker lingo [wikipedia.org] or something. Hand grenades were called the translation of "potatoes", tanks were "turtles", bombers were "buzzards", submarines were "iron fish", etc.

        • by iggymanz (596061)

          would English? for that first word we combined two words with ancient meaning. for the second the Czech word robota means drudgery or hard labor or the period of labor of a serf for a lord (used in a play by Karel ÄOEapek). The third is an acronym, could be directly used in any language, or a descriptive phrase meaning "stimulated emission of light" could be used.

          So yes, Navajo could have the words and in the same manner english does. Any modern concept could be brought into Navajo the same way it

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            So yes, Navajo could have the words and in the same manner english does. Any modern concept could be brought into Navajo the same way it was brought into English, bridging from the old into the new.

            Most of the modern words added to Navajo are translated pidgin-style (eg. according the the article "R2D2"="the short metal thing that's alive"). It takes far longer to say. Making the dialog fit the on-screen action will be challenging, to say the least.

            • The literal back-translation "the short metal thing that's alive" may be long, but it doesn't mean the name in Navajo is. Let's try a more terse English version: "live metalie" -- that's four syllables, just like R2D2. A "live" thing is alive, the suffix "-ie" is a diminutive (little doggies etc) and is now almost always used in relation to living things (including familiar name forms: Johnnie/y, Jeannie, etc).

              Now, the fact that they say "that's alive" makes me immediately assume that Navajo has a specifi

        • The movie came out in the 1970s. If Navajos haven't still added those words to their language yet, then we (white men) will. YOUR CULTURE VILL BE PRESERVED!

        • Why not? The English language managed to handle the Czech word "robotnik" (see: Rossum’s Universal Robots (R.U.R.)) .

      • by Dan East (318230)

        Getting the youth interested is key. This brings it mainstream and demonstrates to the youth that it isn't just the elders being old and stodgy and reminiscent, but is something current and recognized outside of their own community.

      • Think how kids take to Star Wars and othe popular entertainment. Having something major in Navajo will make it so much easier for kids to pick up their native language. If it had been available in Spanish when I was a kid ('70's- only bootleg tapes available then) I might have learned Spanish growing up.

        Hell, I may pick up a copy if available just to start picking up Navajo. Is not like I don't know the movie by heart anyways.

      • by xclr8r (658786)

        How does dubbing a movie that has nothing to do with Navajo culture help preserve Navajo culture? Not trying to troll, I am asking honestly. It seems a bit insulting, the insinuation being that the whole of their culture is distilled down to their native language.

        Not trolling at all-- that's a good question. My thought is that limiting the use of Navajo to the ceremonial marginalizes it to be used only in ritual form. By finding "everyday uses" for it, such as in movies, people form a much more functional use for the language.

        I did a paper on Native American Religions. One thing I discovered is that the Cherokee nation has assisted Apple in creating syllabry to be utilized in Appe’s mobile and computer operating systems.
        American Indians and the Mass Media p.222

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        What "everyday uses" for it are there? That's like trying to find "everyday uses" for classical Latin or Gaelic. No one uses that as a primary language, so why force the language for primary uses?
        • What "everyday uses" for it are there? That's like trying to find "everyday uses" for classical Latin or Gaelic. No one uses that as a primary language, so why force the language for primary uses?

          That's a good question whenever people make an effort to preserve or revive an "endangered" language. One could look at it in terms of ethnic nationalism, where having a "mother tongue" helps define who belongs to which nation. Good examples of that include Modern Hebrew (revitalized from ritual use to have native speakers, largely thanks to the efforts of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda) and Modern Turkish (where the Arabic and Persian vocabulary has been truncated so much that grandmothers can't read the paper anymo

        • by rossdee (243626)

          Some people sing in classical Latin, and Gaelic (or even in made up languages)
          Check out Enya and her sister Moya Brennan

          • by wagnerrp (1305589)
            Singing is an art. You could be spouting gibberish that no one could potentially understand and still convey emotion and meaning. That does not make it an "everyday use". You're not going to go down to the local market and order a pound of salami in Gaelic (well you could, but people would look at you strangely).
    • by c0lo (1497653)
      Keeping their spoken language alive - before one runs, one has to learn walking.
    • by Picass0 (147474)
      Makes total sense to me. It's been dubbed into many other languages over the years. Shouldn't one of the great American films of the 20th century also feature the original native language of this country? .
      • by Sperbels (1008585)
        How many Navajo speakers don't speak English? A few thousand at best? Most of them elderly.
        • by H0p313ss (811249)

          How many Navajo speakers don't speak English? A few thousand at best? Most of them elderly.

          That's not the point, but I suspect that those in "the great melting pot" don't get it most of the time.

          This is not about money, this is not about showing Star Wars to the non-english speakers of the Navajo nation, the point is to make Navajo relevant to those who have inherited it.

    • by fermion (181285)
      According to a radio show I listen to Hebrew, with was only a liturgical language for much of the Common Era, was revived, in part, by Eliezer Ben Yehuda after he was inspired by reading a hebrew translation of Robinson Crusoe. Use in popular media will standardize and spread a language. For instance English was much less of fixed language prior to the time of Shakespeare. By the Mid 17th century,many words were added and the structure more fixed into what we speak now, in part due to Shakespeare standar
      • by Laxori666 (748529)
        "...in part due to Shakespeare standardizing the grammer." Brilliant. You left that in intentionally didn't you? Although I guess that's spelling, not grammar.
    • How does dubbing a movie that has nothing to do with Navajo culture help preserve Navajo culture? Not trying to troll, I am asking honestly. It seems a bit insulting, the insinuation being that the whole of their culture is distilled down to their native language.

      Consider the analogy of Latin: It was(and is, universally until quite recently, even now optionally) deeply embedded in Catholic practice across Catholicism's entire operational reach(as well as in certain areas of academia, law, and the sciences); but even among devoutly Catholic populations, it was crushed by vernacular languages pretty brutally more or less across the board. Even as a prestige language among the learned and privileged of society, that helped keep in in the curriculum into the 19th and 20

    • by DrXym (126579)
      Besides which they should be dubbing it into Klingon first.
    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      It seems a bit insulting, the insinuation being that the whole of their culture is distilled down to their native language.

      Could you understand algebra if your language had no concept of plurality past "more than one"?

      Language provides the framework within which we order our thoughts and interact with the outside world. This has a huge cultural impact. When one is lost, a way of thinking is lost too. People can still study Navajo culture without studying its language, but there's a certian level of understanding of that culture you can never have if you are only capable of thinking in English.

    • by vux984 (928602)

      How does dubbing a movie that has nothing to do with Navajo culture help preserve Navajo culture?

      Using the language helps preserve it. Preserving the language helps preserve the culture.

      It seems a bit insulting, the insinuation being that the whole of their culture is distilled down to their native language.

      Ones language and one's culture do tend to be very closely linked. And the death of the language is likely the final nail in the coffin for the culture as well.

      All that said, watching dubbed movies is wr

      • by DarkVader (121278)

        What's "wrong" about watching a dubbed movie?

        If I'm not interested in actually learning the language, it's not a learning aid.

        If I'm reading the subtitles, I may not be able to pay full attention to the visuals.

        If I'm watching the visuals, I may miss an important few words.

        And if I'm just watching for entertainment, perhaps I don't want to devote my full attention to the screen, perhaps I'm listening to the movie, goofing off on Slashdot, and eating dinner, while occasionally glancing up at the action.

        Sure,

        • by vux984 (928602)

          What's "wrong" about watching a dubbed movie?

          Dubbed dialog is invariably out of lip sync. And worse, it is low budget, performed by low quality actors under the direction of a low quality director without any supervision from the original direction.

          A dubbed movie is like replacing John Williams orchestra score with some cheap porno synth work.

          Or like having all the special effects and explosions redone by the guys who do Robot Chicken. (Although that might be a hilarious treatment of many movies, we can agr

      • All that said, watching dubbed movies is wrong. Watch them in their native tongue with subtitles.

        I like subtitles myself, but I don't think you can say dubbing is wrong. Subtitles themselves do violence to the original movie experience, because you have to take your eyes off the picture to read them.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Subtitles themselves do violence to the original movie experience, because you have to take your eyes off the picture to read them.

          That's fair. Subtitles are far from perfect. But its the much lesser of two evils.

          Dubs are out of sync, low budget, and poorly acted by poor actors under a no-name director. Your watching a movie with a huge part of it literally gutted out and replaced with a grossly inferior version.

          In my other reply I compared it to replacing John Williams opera score for star wars with some

    • by mccoma (64578)

      They are doing a rather large push to use the language in everyday things and movies is one of those things. If the next generation learns it at a young age it will be preserved. Language is an important part of any culture, one of the most basic building blocks to understand what is important.

      note: to those wondering about modern terms - the language isn't dead and new terms are created. This is sometimes done by adding words together (the Dakota word for automobile is long and painful) or adding a suff

  • Hope they checked to make sure they weren't accidentally calling down a fire mission on the theater's location.
  • So what?

    Star wars has been dubbed to much more obscure languages before!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCDb8g_kuu0 [youtube.com]

    • by Phrogman (80473)

      If I recall correctly some of the minor species languages that you encounter in Star Wars were actually people speaking various African languages - which caused a lot of humour when the movies played in Kenya etc.

  • They said how to say "computer" in Navajo, but not how to say "droid". They only explained that R2D2 would be a concept along the lines of "metal thing on wheels that is alive".
    • by tompaulco (629533)

      They said how to say "computer" in Navajo, but not how to say "droid". They only explained that R2D2 would be a concept along the lines of "metal thing on wheels that is alive".

      Or they could have just called it R2D2. One doesn't generally translate names into a description, but into a translated name, or if none is available, then the closest phonetic match.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Yeah, I am not called by a different name when I am speaking another language. Even if that language has a similar name. Translating a name does not make good sense.

        • Yeah, I am not called by a different name when I am speaking another language. Even if that language has a similar name. Translating a name does not make good sense.

          Actually, in some languages, it does. The Romans didn't just translate names out of snobbery -- Latin just doesn't work without appropriate endings that allow the name to be assigned a grammatical class to match its function in the sentence. Check out the way it worked in Latin here [nationalarchives.gov.uk]. Navajo has its own complex system of noun declensions, so a name has to be well-formed in the language or you simply cannot use it properly.

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            That sounds like a terrible way to build a language.

            Perhaps it is better neither of those are still in popular use.

            • If you'd ever tried teaching English, you'd understand how much superior this type of language is in terms of clarity. English is a horrible, horrible language, full of inconsistency and dubious logic, yet everyone uses it. It's a bit like Javascript, I suppose....
              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                English is a bad language as well, but this seems pointlessly complex.

                We should first fix our spelling, that would improve the language a lot.

                • English is a bad language as well, but this seems pointlessly complex.

                  "Seems", not "is". Anything that is different to what you personally do will always feel instinctively wrong. This is where racism, sexism, and all other major types of prejudicial discrimination stem from: "different is bad!" Enlightenment comes from looking past your first reaction and accepting the differences as being something other than signs of inferiority.

                  Being able to clearly denote the role of a person or thing in a sentence reduces ambiguity and it frees the word order up, so that you can use

                  • by h4rr4r (612664)

                    I did not say different was bad, I said why I did not like it. For the record I speak german, badly, and my name stays the same.

                    There is no need to change a name to denote a role of a noun. My name is the same when I speak german. Heck, I spoke it with this name before I spoke English.

              • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                Perhaps everyone uses English because you can talk to anyone, regardless of their name, using it.

      • by xclr8r (658786)
        Episode IV as I'm sure you already uses both the word droid and R2's name as well. I guess you could call him an R2 unit in place of 'droid but where does that leave 3pO?
      • They said how to say "computer" in Navajo, but not how to say "droid". They only explained that R2D2 would be a concept along the lines of "metal thing on wheels that is alive".

        Or they could have just called it R2D2. One doesn't generally translate names into a description, but into a translated name, or if none is available, then the closest phonetic match.

        Sure, but our brilliant slashdot-mangled summary told us

        Listen to this article and how 'computer' and 'droid' would translate.

        So if someone were to click on the article and listen to it hoping to hear a Navajo expression of "droid" they would be sadly disappointed. The audio clip does give the Navajo expression for "computer" but not for "droid".

  • I think it's a great idea, although I would have chosen Empire. But after seeing and hearing the bluray quality of the remastered ep4 I hope they use the new remastered bluray audio. Heck I know every line from that movie backwards and forward from my misspent youth, I could probably still enjoy the film in Navaho. I sometimes enjoy watching it in foreign languages. If you watch the bluray in a non English language the initial crawl text is in that language, not just subtitled, but the actual crawl is i

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @10:23AM (#43840249)
    It would be interesting to see it dubbed into a Siouan language, cheifly because Lucas' The Force is a nearly identical concept to their own Wakonda, which was the basis for most Siouan tribal religon. If anything, The Force translates better into Siouan languages than into English. [google.com]

    It is diflicult to formulate the native idea expressed in this word ... Wakonda that is the permeating life of visible nature -- an invisible life and power that reaches everywhere and everything and can be appealed to by man to send him help.

    You quite often see this translated as "Great Spirit" or "Great Maker", and treated as if it was merely a quaint native term for the Judeo-Christian God.

    • So, Lucas ripped off the concept of the "Force"? Does that mean they could Sioux him?

      • So, Lucas ripped off the concept of the "Force"? Does that mean they could Sioux him?

        Well, wouldn't be the first time being ripped off by the White Man.

  • I think I'll wait for the subbed version. Subtitles are always better.

  • Dubbed In Navajo

    FFS, Avatar was just a movie. Get over yourselves.

  • It is the best "open" code language. Used in the Pacific theatre in WWII.
  • Haven't the Native Americans been punished enough by the white man's foolery as it is?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Haven't the Native Americans been punished enough by the white man's foolery as it is?

      If R2D2 is translated to "short metal thing that's alive", couldn't "Stormtrooper" be translated to "white man"?

      • If R2D2 is translated to "short metal thing that's alive", couldn't "Stormtrooper" be translated to "white man"?

        That would be absolutely poetic. Oh please, please let them do this!

        (I am a white European.)

  • That's what protocol droids are there for. Let me know when they translate it into Bocce.

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.

Working...