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Thread: Let's make fun of France TV

  1. #1
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Cool Let's make fun of France TV



    I watched some documentaries about India and China on France 2's website, and other web documentaries about China on France 5*. I couldn't help sharing my impressions. The way French reporters pronounce Chinese names is just too hilarious. There are dozens of reportages, each with a different journalist, and not one of them knows the basics on how to read Chinese words. I am not talking about mistaken tones, that's too much asking for Westerners, but about how to read the pinyin romanization. That's the kind of knowledge one can acquire in the airplane before landing for the first time in China.

    The idea is to open one's Lonely Planet phrasebook and familiarize oneself with the romanization system first before trying to remember the basic greetings or place names. Obviously a step that French journalists constantly skip. How ridiculous do they sound when they read 'Guangzhou' as if it was a French word, saying something like Gangzoo (to be read as an English word) because 'Gu' is a hard 'g' in French, 'ou' is 'oo' and they failed to learn that 'zh' is closer to a 'j' than a 'z'. I mean come on, Guangzhou is the fourth most famous Chinese city after Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong ! But why should they pronounce it right when French speakers regularly call Shanghai "Shan-gai" (with a nasalized 'an') and Hong Kong is 'on kon' (also nasalized). When their linguistic skills is so low, is it even useful to point out gross errors in less familiar names ? No, Xinjiang is not 'ksinyang' (with a nazalised 'ang' as in the French 'langue') but more like 'shin-dji-ang'.

    The funniest part was to see the reporter at the end of each scoop commenting with a serious and formal air on his face as if he was a diplomat on a special mission, or at least someone that should be taken seriously. How are we supposed to do that when he says he is reporting from from province of Ksinyang ?


    It's not just the pronunciation that discredit France TV's professionalism. The French always make a point in capitalising whole surnames, so as not to confuse them with given names (e.g. John SMITH). They do it for foreign names, but just as regularly with French names. Even in emails people will sign their own surname all in capitals. That's a French idiosyncrasy. Well, in all their documentaries the professional TV staff whose job it is to clarify to the French audience which name is the surname and which is/are the given name(s) constantly got it wrong, capitalizing all the given names ! Now that is useful, isn't it ? Why pay someone to make sure the TV watchers know what is the interviewee's family name, and mislead them every time !

    The documentaries are not bad, but frankly, get professional and fire, or relocate or re-train those clowns that don't have anything to do in China with their current level of Chinese. Unbelievable...


    * France 2, 3, 4 and 5 are all state-owned channels of the France Televisions group.
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    Regular Member Wilhelm's Avatar
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    hmmm....

    Also chinese TV pronounces Western names very bad and peculiar...

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    Regular Member Cambrius (The Red)'s Avatar
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    Chinese translations of English are hilarious sometimes.

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    Come on, i never saw any english speaking journalist able to pronounce French properly, they even still call the French capital "Pay-wiss" instead of "Pa-ree" while French names and cities should be much more familiar to them than Chinese ones are to any westerner. Should they all be fired ?
    Same about professionalism, look at american TV channels like Fox News instead of generalising about French TV from one or two documentaries you saw. We probably have among the most professional medias in the West here, nothing like Italian (Berlusconian) TV, british tabloids, or politically biased american news channels.

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilhelm View Post
    hmmm....

    Also chinese TV pronounces Western names very bad and peculiar...
    The education level and cosmopolitanism is not comparable. Then the Chinese (and even more the Japanese for that matter) lack a lot of sounds found in European languages. French has most of the sounds in Chinese, except the distinction between the Chinese 'q' and 'ch', or 'j' and 'zh'. Even the tones aren't hard to pronounce for French (and other Romance language speakers) because they are used all the time to convey feelings. What's hard is to recognise different meanings by listening to the tones.

    I noticed that the BBC didn't mistake so often for the pronunciation of Chinese. BBC staff are taught that a Chinese 'x' is like an English 'sh' not 'ks'. The French aren't. One exception is on ARTE (Franco-German channel). Usually ARTE commentators are more careful about the pronunciation of foreign words. Perhaps it is because it is a bilingual channel and the staff is more international-minded.

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smertrius View Post
    Come on, i never saw any english speaking journalist able to pronounce French properly, they even still call the French capital "Pay-wiss" instead of "Pa-ree" while French names and cities should be much more familiar to them than Chinese ones are to any westerner. Should they all be fired ?
    Most British people know how to pronounce French. They often have an accent, but that's another thing altogether.

    As for "Paris", the correct English pronunciation is with the 's' at the end. Just like the correct Italian is 'Parigi' and not 'Pari'. It is not wrong to say 'Londres' in French. They shouldn't say 'London' because a French translation exist and it is 'Londres'. I am not asking people to give up translation of city names that have been used for centuries. What would be wrong would be for a French speaker to pronounce 'London' with nasalised 'on' sounds like in French. Either say 'Londres' with a French accent or 'London' with an English accent, but don't mix them up.

    It's ok for French speakers to say 'Canton' for 'Guangzhou' but it's utterly wrong to read 'Guangzhou' as 'Ganjou' (like Anjou with a "g" sound). I have heard it on France TV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Most British people know how to pronounce French. They often have an accent, but that's another thing altogether.
    No, neither British nor Americans know how to pronounce it, I don't know what makes you say that but the vast majority only speak English and when they know a bit of French it's very limited and their pronounciation is very bad. They can't pronounce R ou U correctly, AU, EAU, EU nearly always end up sounding something like IOU and of course the nasals are never pronounced correctly. I just can't imagine how they would have pronounce the name of your previous king...
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    As for "Paris", the correct English pronunciation is with the 's' at the end. Just like the correct Italian is 'Parigi' and not 'Pari'. It is not wrong to say 'Londres' in French. They shouldn't say 'London' because a French translation exist and it is 'Londres'. I am not asking people to give up translation of city names that have been used for centuries. What would be wrong would be for a French speaker to pronounce 'London' with nasalised 'on' sounds like in French. Either say 'Londres' with a French accent or 'London' with an English accent, but don't mix them up.
    It's ok for French speakers to say 'Canton' for 'Guangzhou' but it's utterly wrong to read 'Guangzhou' as 'Ganjou' (like Anjou with a "g" sound). I have heard it on France TV.
    Bad example (à vrai dire j'avais quelques doutes à ce sujet mais je ne pensais pas que quelqu'un le relèverait...) but that doesn't change the fact that they always pronounce the final consonants of words and names.
    Last edited by Smertrius; 31-03-10 at 13:38.

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    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smertrius View Post
    No, neither British nor Americans know how to pronounce it, I don't know what makes you say that but the vast majority only speak English and when they know a bit of French it's very limited and their pronounciation is very bad. They can't pronounce R ou U correctly, AU, EAU, EU nearly always end up sounding something like IOU and of course the nasals are never pronounced correctly. I just can't imagine how they would have pronounce the name of your previous king...
    That's purely a problem of accent, not of not knowing how it is pronounced. You are right for Americans, but most educated British people have learned at least some French. I know many who speak it very well, although almost always with a distinctive English accent.

    It's ok for a French or English speaker to pronounce Chongqing with a "Ch" an a "q" that sound the same (because the nuance doesn't exist in either French or English), but it is not to drop the final "g" an nasalise the "on" and "in" like in French and make it sound like "chon chin". There is a limit to what is acceptable. The French commentators in the above examples on France TV utterly massacre the pronunciation of Chinese names.

    I also noticed that 99% of French speakers (also in Belgium), and not just on TV, read "ch" in other languages as if it was a French "ch" (which is an English "sh"). French is the only language that writes the "sh" sound "ch". I have known that since I was a child. I know instinctively that when I see a non-French name or word with a "ch" and don't know how to pronounce it my best bet is to say "tch" and not "sh". If I see a name in Romanised Swahili or Malaysian or Kazakh or Tupi or one of the thousand languages of Papua-New Guinea, I will read "ch" like in English or Spanish because that's the default for the international romanization system. Why is it that 99% of native French speakers don't know that ?

    It takes some effort to explain to the average French speaker that the Japanese city of Chiba is not the same as Shiba, or that Chuzenji isn't Shuzenji.

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    It’s very hard to “take the rise” out of French TV when the Germans have this sort of thing! (I love it!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0wlDZKe8Tg
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