Winnie-the-Pooh in Caucasian Languages.

This YouTube video (four and a half minutes) has Winnie-the-Pooh’s song (Russian lyrics here) in Avar, Ossetian, Darghin, Kumyk, Lak, Lezghin, and Tatar (and at the end, for good measure, English, German, and Russian). Fun! (Via Steven Lubman’s Facebook post.)

Update. And here‘s a four-minute clip of Winnie in Chechen!

Comments

  1. And a ten-minute clip in Darghin, too!
    I have to say, Piglet’s falsetto is an odd match for these languages; to my ears anyway. I’m sure the children for whom these are made think they are just fine.

  2. David Marjanović says:

    Looks like there’s a lot of Winnie the Tooh (sic) in Chechen. Here’s some more.

  3. I wonder why it’s Tooh in Chechen? Some kind of taboo avoidance?

  4. Here’s the full version in Avar. I used to send this to people for fun; there’s some amazing consonants in there. It’s remarkable, even for a Caucasian language.

  5. marie-lucie says:

    It’s great to be able to listen to so many little-known languages.

  6. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I wonder why it’s Tooh in Chechen? Some kind of taboo avoidance?

    This query has only a tenuous connection with your sentence or with your post. It’s stimulated by the expression “taboo avoidance”, and I’m hoping someone here knows enough about Thai to comment on something I read many years ago (about 45 years ago, as the daughter who was the cause of my being in a baby-sitting circle is now 46) when I was baby-sitting in the house of someone who appeared to be a expert on linguistics.

    Some of the houses I baby-sat in had no books at all, but this one had many, and one that I took off the shelf at random (after all this time there is no hope of remembering the title or the author(s)) proved to be fascinating. As far as I recall it had a chapter about taboo avoidance in Thai, and it said that Thai speakers familiar with English will avoid using words when speaking Thai that sound vaguely like offensive words in English, much as a French speaker might avoid referring to a seal as a phoque. No French speaker of my acquaintance would be the least embarrassed about using a word like phoque, but apparently Thai speakers take this sort of thing to an extreme. (That may have been my first exposure to linguistics as an academic discipline.)

    Does this make sense to anyone?

  7. The Mandarin filler word nèige is notorious for that; I haven’t seen any indication that Chinese avoid it around English-speakers.

  8. Are you positive you’re remembering it correctly? Could it be that Thai speakers avoid using words when speaking English that sound like offensive words in Thai?

  9. Someone took clips from Shrek and made a video for a traditional Ingush folk love song. Came out pretty funny based on the words.
    Here it is with Russian subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n65miknCPNc

  10. I think Athel might have read something by the linguist Mary Haas, whose work on interlingual taboo avoidance (including Thai/English) is described in this Language Log post.

    The Haas’s paper was published in 1951. I’ve recently lived in Thailand and learnt a little bit of Thai, and I didn’t notice Thais avoiding words like fák “squash/pumpkin” or phrík “chilli” around English speakers. I have heard them giggle about it, though.

  11. Jim (another one) says:

    “I wonder why it’s Tooh in Chechen? Some kind of taboo avoidance?”

    That isn’t operating in English? I’m holding off on reading Winnie the Pooh to my four-year old grandson to keep from confusing him. He already did a double take when he asked what I was making and I told him “pea soup.”

  12. marie-lucie says:

    Athel: No French speaker of my acquaintance would be the least embarrassed about using a word like phoque,

    Indeed, le phoque and the taboo English word don’t sound the same to me at all except for the initial consonant. But the word was well-known to my anglophone Canadian students even if their French vocabulary was scanty.

  13. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    No, I speak RP, and for me fuck and phoque sound quite different, but some English speakers have [fɔk] for the former.

  14. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Are you positive you’re remembering it correctly? Could it be that Thai speakers avoid using words when speaking English that sound like offensive words in Thai?

    Well, it was 45 years ago, so no, I’m not sure, but I think it was the way round that I said.

  15. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Thanks very much, Matt_M, for drawing attention to the LanguageLog article, which I don’t think I’d seen before (I don’t think I was following LanguageLog in 2007). It seems very probable that I had read something by Mary Haas or by one of her followers. In addition, there is lots of other good stuff in that article, including a plausible explanation of something I was wondering about (not for the first time) just a couple of days ago, namely why the wife of an earl is a countess.

  16. I’m holding off on reading Winnie the Pooh

    Not a problem here, where the child-term for feces is poop.

    why the wife of an earl is a countess

    I find this difficult to accept. After all, if count were tabooed (and it is used freely of foreign noblemen, after all), why not countess? The first two quotations in the OED, both 12C, use the spellings cuntess and cuntass. I think that earl won out because there was a traditional term for it, as for king, queen. In Anglo-Saxon days the rank between eorl ‘nobleman’ and ceorl ‘commoner’ (hence earl, churl) was þegn (variously modernized as thain, thane, thegn), originally ‘servant’. This was replaced by the French borrowing baron, though why we don’t know. (Dukes and marquesses in England are a later growth.)

  17. Oddly, even though England lacked counts, the English-speaking countries use county with total abandon, to the point that hardly anyone still recognizes its feudal associations. In some people’s minds it’s become a truly generic term for low-level administrative districts: I’ve seen German Kreise and Chinese xiàn both referred to as counties.

  18. I agree with JC about earl and countess.

  19. Here’s Винни-пыҟә in Abkhaz.

  20. David Marjanović says:

    Someone took clips from Shrek and made a video for a traditional Ingush folk love song.

    Mind blown.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    Here’s the full version in Avar. I used to send this to people for fun; there’s some amazing consonants in there.

    So many [t͡ɬʼ] and [q͡χʼ]!

    Explanation of Awar consonants in Russian. Like many Caucasian languages, Awar has epiglottals.

  22. Trond Engen says:

    I’m holding off on reading Winnie the Pooh to my four-year old grandson to keep from confusing him. He already did a double take when he asked what I was making and I told him “pea soup.”

    That’s not a nice thing to do to a four-year-old. When you’re four, poo is the best thing in the world. When my son was that age he was quite funny (he still is), and not always about poo. But when we laughed he’d always top his joke by repeating it with the funny part replaced with bæsj “poo”. I’m convinced that the young Christopher Robin was the same kind. He came up with a funny name for his bear, and then he changed it to “Winnie the Poo”.

  23. Christopher Robin originally called a particular swan “Pooh.” This is mentioned in the introduction to the first Pooh book, and there’s a reasonable summary here: http://www.penguin.com/static/pages/yr/minisites/winniethepooh/history.php

  24. Yes, poo and bums (butts) are great fun for kids. One popular children’s book is called “The Day My Bum Went Psycho” (American edition, “The Day My Butt Went Psycho”).

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