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Singing to native speakers

Andy7 11 Jun 17 - 09:07 AM
Deckman 11 Jun 17 - 09:19 AM
Jack Campin 11 Jun 17 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Fred Maslan 11 Jun 17 - 02:30 PM
Felipa 11 Jun 17 - 06:26 PM
Jackaroodave 11 Jun 17 - 06:47 PM
StephenH 11 Jun 17 - 06:57 PM
Roger the Skiffler 12 Jun 17 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,matt milton 12 Jun 17 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,Brian 12 Jun 17 - 02:06 PM
Jack Campin 12 Jun 17 - 05:59 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Jun 17 - 09:47 PM
BobL 13 Jun 17 - 02:56 AM
BobL 13 Jun 17 - 03:11 AM
melodeonboy 13 Jun 17 - 05:14 AM
Mysha 13 Jun 17 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Grishka 13 Jun 17 - 10:52 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jun 17 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Brian 13 Jun 17 - 12:01 PM
BobL 14 Jun 17 - 02:52 AM
Joe Offer 14 Jun 17 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Brian 14 Jun 17 - 08:30 AM
Jack Campin 14 Jun 17 - 10:56 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Jun 17 - 11:10 AM
GUEST 14 Jun 17 - 12:36 PM
meself 14 Jun 17 - 01:14 PM
Jeri 14 Jun 17 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Brian 14 Jun 17 - 02:38 PM
meself 14 Jun 17 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Brian 14 Jun 17 - 03:40 PM
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Subject: Singing to native speakers
From: Andy7
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 09:07 AM

If I learn a song in, say, Welsh or Irish Gaelic, is it good form, or otherwise, to give the song an outing in front of native speakers, at a singaround in Wales or Ireland, for example?

If you were one of those native speakers, might you respect my attempt, be amused at my hubris, or be annoyed at my mangling of a song that everyone else present could have pronounced better?


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Deckman
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 09:19 AM

I avoid doing that. I speak several languages, so I can sing songs in other languages if it fits. Sometimes I'll play just the melody of a Mexican folksong to try to draw out the singing of a native Mexican speaker. Then if they seem open to it, I'll quietly sing along with them. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 01:26 PM

I have played with a few groups doing Middle Eastern music, and we've often ended up with some of the singers doing numbers in languages they weren't native speakers of. Native speakers in the audience have always been appreciative, and it takes some digging to get them to say how the Farsi vowels or Greek stress patterns weren't quite right.

That said, we were doing rather familiar material, bordering on anthemic. There is quite a lot of that in Welsh, and the Welsh culture in pretty enthusiastic about accommodating learners. But in Gaelic (at least the Scottish variety) audiences tend to be rather critical, unless it's something so familiar the likely response is for them all to sing along and drown you out. In very small gatherings Gaelic-speaking listeners are pretty supportive - in a concert they've paid for, maybe not.

A problem which is worse in Irish Gaelic than most languages is dialect differences. A Kerry song in a Donegal accent might not fly well, at least not in Kerry.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,Fred Maslan
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 02:30 PM

One time I sang Tumbalaika in Yidish to a group which included a number of Yidish speakers. Afterward one woman came up to me and said "Very nice, very nice, next time you sing in English." Another time I sang 'Those were the days" in Russian to a group of women some of whom were from Russia and afterward a bunch of them converged on me and started talking to me in Russian, so I guess my pronunciation must have been OK,


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Felipa
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 06:26 PM

Irish speakers seem happy to hear non-native speakers sing in Irish and are reasonably tolerant. I wouldnt suggest it if you arent fairly confident of pronunciation. I dont think people mind too much which dialect you use. I would agree with Jack Campin that the Welsh would usually encourage learners but that native speakers of Scottish Gaelic can be very critical of non-native speakers pronunciation.

Non-native speakers of English very often perform songs in English; you can probably think of some who record and perform with commercial success.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Jackaroodave
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 06:47 PM

Reminds me of a Kingston Trio introduction to one of their songs,

"Our next song is in French, and for those of you who speak French, it's in Creole French. And for those of you who speak Creole French, it's in Northwestern Creole French. . . . as perhaps spoken in Utah."


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: StephenH
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 06:57 PM

Ha- I must steal and adapt that for future use!


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 12 Jun 17 - 05:47 AM

I'm happy to join in a simple chorus with my Greek friends (and am encouraged to do so)such as Varka Yialo but my attempt to sing Kokoraki (The Greek equivalent of Old MacDonald had a farm caused such merriment (for the wrong reason!) that I haven't repeated the experiment.

RtS


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 12 Jun 17 - 11:01 AM

Depends not just on how good your accent and pronunciation is, but also what the song is, what the mood of the song is, etc. For instance, I speak pretty good French and my accent is pretty good, so I might perhaps risk singing a comic song or a simple love song at a French singaround, if I ever found myself at one. But I think if I were to try to sing something tragic or overly serious I imagine I would probably sound foolish at best... or slightly grotesque at worst.

You just have to imagine, in your head, a song you deeply love that is very poignant or moving or chilling or disturbing or in any way emotionally intense, being sung in heavily accented English; then you'll have your answer.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 12 Jun 17 - 02:06 PM

I've had good responses to my non-native Irish pronunciation in front of native speakers. People are polite in occasions open to outsiders to sing. One does not need good pronunciation or skill only good heart and soul.

Brian


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jun 17 - 05:59 PM

Here's one where the singer isn't likely to get too many complaints:

Epic of Gilgamesh in the original Sumerian


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Jun 17 - 09:47 PM

If done with respect I can't see why anyone would see it as offensive. Of course it might cause amusement. Foreign accents do often get that response in many situations.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: BobL
Date: 13 Jun 17 - 02:56 AM


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: BobL
Date: 13 Jun 17 - 03:11 AM

(try again) "A song you deeply love [...] sung in heavily accented English"
didn't do Richard Tauber any harm.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: melodeonboy
Date: 13 Jun 17 - 05:14 AM

Good point, BobL!


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Mysha
Date: 13 Jun 17 - 05:57 AM

Hi,

"If I learn a song in, [a tongue that is foreign to me], is it good form, or otherwise, to give the song an outing in front of native speakers, at a singaround in [parts where it is a native tongue]?"

I do so on most holidays in England; I can't recall the English ever complaining about it.

Bye,
                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 13 Jun 17 - 10:52 AM

Like the others wrote, it all depends. Caveats include:

a) Never sing anything you do not fully understand, the complete context and each single word and phrase both literally and with all relevant connotations (- native speakers often fall short of this as well!).

b) Avoid appearing condescending; ask natives prior to the event if in doubt.

c) Unless you are effectively bicultural, perfect pronunciation and imitation of the target culture is not required and may well turn against you. A foreign accent can be very charming - some even apply it in spite of better skills! The same applies to the accompaniment: best declare it "crossover".


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jun 17 - 11:35 AM

Personally I've never seen the point in singing in a language that is not your owwn unless you ate totally familiar with it.
Surely the enjoyment in singing is to wrap yourself - even wallow - in the beauty and subtleties of the story, otherwise you are just producing meaningless sound
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 13 Jun 17 - 12:01 PM

Comprehension and proper preparation. I recently discovered through Google Translate that the Japanese syllabary for "Thank you for your hard work" can also be read as, "m****erf****er". That is why learning the kanji is so appropriate for any Japanese-language investigation. I have heard a Thai man singing Hank Williams songs and an Englishman singing Johnny Cash. I found both of them endearing in their own way. Many songs in my American heritage had their origins on other shores. Apparently the signature sound of American Country music, the steel guitar and the yodel may have Hawaiian origins. Aloha, Brian


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: BobL
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 02:52 AM

Slightly different situation perhaps: I've sung "Le Petit Oiseau Joli" (look it up) for English audiences on the odd suitable occasion. I wouldn't dare sing it to a French one.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 07:55 AM

Singing is a great way to learn a language - it imprints language patterns on your mind. But singing a song "phonetically" without knowing the language, can be deadly.
I sometimes have friends who want me to teach them how to pronounce the words to a Latin or German song. Usually, they want me to type up a phonetic interpretation. They don't want to learn the rules of pronunciation that I learned the first day I studied those languages. I'm reluctant - I hate things that are written out "phonetically."
I was hiking with some Swiss people in Zermatt last year. When they found out I could sing, they wanted me to sing something. So, I sang a couple of songs in German, hoping they would sing with me. That didn't connect at all. They said, "Those are German songs - we only know Swiss songs."
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 08:30 AM

Yeah, I understand that the Swiss think of their language and culture as Americans or the Irish think think about the common language that separates them that they inherited from the English. how phonemes are voiced can vary a great deal according to one's regional dialect. On a visit to Ireland once I heard the locals boasting of a new place that had recently opened I heard them describe as "The Ramahdah". After some reflection, I realized they were saying "Ramada", the inn.                                                                  By the way, Joe Offer,                                                I seem to have lost my cookies. How may I be reinstated, if possible?


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 10:56 AM

I would have assumed "Ramada" rhymes with "armada". Doesn't it? If not, why does switching two letters change anything?


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 11:10 AM

Another slightly different situation, but relevant to the pitfalls of dealing publicly with a language you don't understand
In the fifties Alan Lomax and Seamus Ennis went off to the Hebrides to record traditional song for the BBC
On one of the Islands (Lewis?) they recorded 'waulking songs' - improvised pieces, in Scots Gaelic, for stretching the newly woven tweed - Lomax had no Gaelic, but Ennis, being a noted Irish speaker, picked it up instantly.
Wherever he went, women swooned over Lomax, and the Island women improvised a song about "the handsome young American with fine hair, beautiful eyes, broad shoulders, manly chest..... right down his body, omitting none of the essential bits.
The recording was shipped off to London and played on the radio, the broadcasters being as unaware of the contents of the song as was Lomax - Ennis said nothing and was happy to wait and see how it all played out.
The Beeb was barraged with complaints about the "obscene" song for weeks afterwards.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 12:36 PM

Oh Seamus was a calculating character was he not. On my side of the pond Ramada rhymes with armada. I don't claim to know how it is supposed to be pronounced. I have Gaelic singer acquaintance who related that waulking song tale to me years ago. I didn't realize it involved Alan Lomax.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: meself
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 01:14 PM

Okay, GUEST - so what is "your" side of the pond? And I may be confused - but where I come from, 'armada' rhymes with 'Ramahdah' ... or is that the point?


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: Jeri
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 02:19 PM

I'm unaware anyone pronounces it otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 02:38 PM

I live in New England. What I failed to explain clearly is a characteristic of the remnants Irish Language that still inflect English in Ireland. The Irish tend to place more emphasis on the initial syllables of most words. That tendency is not easily transmitted through the platform of internet text, especially through my lame initial attempt of communicating it. My sincere apologies extended. Does my reiteration succeed any better than my previous attempt? Jeri, we are regionally contiguous. We are a known quantity to each other.


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: meself
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 02:44 PM

Okay, think I gotcha now - RAW-ma-da as opposed to ra-MAW-da ..... ?


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Subject: RE: Singing to native speakers
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 14 Jun 17 - 03:40 PM

Sin é go díreach glan(that's it to a "t"). Sorry, I'm ambidextrous.


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