Friday, June 13, 2008

Benny Lava

The Benny Lava video is the latest "viral" video, with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. I don't direct you to it because it's amusing (though it is), but because it's interesting.

It's a Bollywood video which someone has subtitled not with an English translation, but with English lyrics more or less matching what it kind of sounds like the actors are singing. Hard to's easier to just go see.

What fascinates me is just how convincing it is. And it's not convincing because the syllables sung are
so close to English. Rather, it's the intense power of subtitles - a phenomenon I don't really understand. I'd noticed it once before, when, for some reason I watched an English DVD with the subtitling on. Bizarrely, I couldn't take my eyes off the subtitles. In fact, I stopped fully "hearing" the dialog after a few minutes. Weird!

There's surely a psychology thesis to be written about all this. But, in any case, I'll bet that even native Hindi speakers (who also speak good English) will find themselves involuntarily hearing the fake English per subtitles in this video.


rajeev joshi said...

it is WIERD - but i can't even hear the hindi - unbelievable.

Pat said...

I have just recently managed to purge my mind of this inane kids' song: My name is Joe: only to be replaced by You need a bun to bite, Benny Lava. Thanks a lot!

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