or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Language Barrier

Or, Slatism Of The Day, although I suppose we can't really blame Slate altogether, since this piece is evidently from the Financial Times, though someone should have vetted it, so there's no excuse in the end: someone has to take the blame, so I propose we divide it evenly among the FT, Slate, and the author.

In this article about opera being broadcast on the big screen, writer Laura Battle refers to the English National Opera and the Royal Opera putting 3-D productions in the cinemas, Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia and Bizet's Carmen respectively, and then goes on to say,

It is no coincidence that ROH and ENO are both launching their 3-D initiatives with 19th-century Italian classics.

This will come as a great surprise to the ROH, Bizet in his grave, and generations of opera-goers, all of whom are reasonably certain that Carmen was written, and is usually performed, in French. It's a Frenchman's idea of Spain, by a French composer, to a libretto by two French authors, from a play by another French author, for god's sake: it could only be less Italian if it had been written in German.

But that's not all! Here's a paragraph from further down:

Napier admits as much. "We haven't got to the point yet where [filmmakers] are proscribing what the repertoire will be," he says. "It's still a case of 'this is what's coming up, what can we cherry-pick from it?' But we are nevertheless aware that certain titles are more conducive to the more populist cinema medium."

Once again, it's hard to know where the blame lies: did Napier say "proscribing", a word which makes no sense in the context--it means "forbid, denounce, banish, or condemn"--or did Battle mishear or mistype "prescribing", which is clearly intended? At any rate, someone, somewhere should have fixed it, even if that meant correcting a direct quote, unless the intent was to humiliate Mr. Napier by making it look as if he can't tell one word from another, in which case mission accomplished.

If it weren't for Christopher Hitchens, Emily Yoffe, and a few others, I wouldn't read Slate at all. Their error level is just shamefully, inexcusably high.


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