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Friday, November 13, 2009

Original Child Bomb

That's what the Japanese called the first atomic weapon, and it later became the title of a famous Thomas Merton poem.  A few years ago I served as chief adviser to a doc film (my son also worked on it and appeared in it)  of the same name which went on to win a major film fest award -- and then a short segment drawn from it won a prize at Cannes.  Here is that 10-minute short, a kind of child's history of the nuclear age, from Truman to Saddam. 


Rodger said...

Necessary and informative, however, the repeated mispronunciation of the word "nuclear" makes the entire film almost unwatchable.

Anonymous said...

It's otherwise a very good piece, but hearing the child narrator mispronouncing "nuclear" ("new-clear") as "nuke-yoo-ler" over and over and over is a horrible and annoying distraction. This is particularly jarring in light of the fact that the child is obviously trying hard (and succeeding) to pronounce "all the (other) big words" correctly.

WHY then didn't a supervising adult coach the child on correct pronunciation of the most important word in the film? I was cringing every time I heard it.

As Rodger said, it makes the entire film almost unwatchable, and that's a shame.

Lynn Malmstrom said...

Oh really! Your focus on the mispronunciation of a word utterly destroyed the meaning of the film? From my point of view, you missed the forest and ran smack into a tree.

Anonymous said...

It's not "a tree" we ran into, Lynn.

Seriously: It's not just one "childish mispronunciation" (all the more glaring for it being THE ONLY ONE, in a video where a child tried hard - and succeeded - to pronounce harder words correctly.)

Proper pronunciation normally goes unquestioned, but this sort of thing gets double-takes. Why? It's not "just a minor thing", (as it might have appeared if the child had "childishly mispronounced" any other "big words", which he or she DID NOT.)

It's a majorly important English Language word in our socio-political vocabulary regarding the state of affairs of the world today, and specifically, a word that a particular recent Major Head of State chose to deliberately mispronounce in hubris and a "gung-ho movie cowboy" attitude of "we're the greatest so we can do whatever we want" toward the serious issue of World Politics.

"Nuclear" mispronounced carried the implication not only of of ignorance but of a lack of (or a who-gives-a-damn attitude toward) proper and sufficient basic education, not just in the English language. And a lack of education strongly implies a lack of education and attention to (or care for) the necessary intricacies of Global Politics as well.

It is not well-done to make elementary-school language mistakes and risk sound uneducated in a global environment where even one's fellow representatives from different nations (most of which speak different native languages) have a much better grasp of one's native English language than the speaker.

What does it say: Other countries care enough to even learn proper English, but Americans in their pride and arrogance don't even care to be masters at their own game, let alone care what others think of them?

Pride goeth before a fall, it's always been said.

America, and particularly its leaders and instructive voices, need no more excuses to sound ignorant and uneducated.

Whoever coached this child on the proper pronunciation of all the "harder" words but left "noo kyoo ler" alone did this child, and the message of what could have een a more powerful video, a great disservice.

Lynn said...

Anonymous, I could not agree more with your assessment, in other words, the tree I referred to is a big tree and still stands in the forest. I believe the subject of weapons, who has them, how many, and most importantly, who has been the only user of those weapons just carries so much more weight in the discussion of this topic. And, I do apologize, as my comment sounded like a personal attack on your perspective, and that is wrong. We each have our opinions and perspectives, and are entitled to them.