For the past few months I have been learning how to say “I have to tell you something, but I don’t know how,” in several languages as an ongoing performance/video/installation project. This endeavor is proving to be both challenging and rewarding. I think there is inherent failure in it, but I recite the sentences in my head frequently to keep what I’ve learned, and will take Erika’s suggestion to make an MP3 of all my instructors/collaborators saying the sentence so that I can listen to the correct pronunciations and intonations on a loop while driving. I can now say this sentence in Japanese, German, Thai, Armenian, Korean, and Spanish – although with a slight American accent. I also learned Farsi and Hebrew, but have yet to memorize them. So far even with two years of Hebrew School under my belt (although 26 years ago) that was the hardest, and perhaps a bit disappointing to realize how little I retained from Hebrew School. Or perhaps just that originally learning Hebrew with a NY accent made perfecting the Isreali accent much more difficult than I anticipated. Gil was a patient, yet serious teacher, working with me to get the sounds right, but after over an hour (and a change of videotape) we resigned to the fact that certain sounds cannot be made by everyone. Video stills from each lesson with be added as the project continues… email me if you have a language to teach and want to participate.
John and I have been finalizing the English to Korean translations for my video project (i dream in your language – to be shown at SoundWalk on Oct. 3) and I am realizing how nuanced this whole process is. With four bilingual friends helping, we ended up with several slightly varying interpretations of the interview with Jonggeon Lee. So far I have 5 more interviews to translate, and several more to shoot. The project is becoming bigger than I imagined, and I am excited about it – enjoying the process, and trying to figure out how represent it in this piece or in another one. i dream in your language began at VSC when I saw that Le Kinh Tai was using google translate, which is often inaccurate, to communicate with all the rest of the residents. This morning Jeremy sent me an article about the UN interpretation process, which also seems to sometimes result in inaccuracies. Sounds Dangerous.
If any of you speak multiple languages in addition to English and want to participate in this project let me know. I still would like to interview people speaking German, French, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindi (Nicole I will interview you in Nov.), Japanese, Tagalog, and any Eastern European and/or African languages/dialects… I ask three questions in English and you respond in your native language (or language of preference): 1. Where are you from and what languages do you speak? 2. What is it like to communicate with people who don’t speak your native language? 3. What language(s) do you dream in?