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13th Warrior - How Would You Learn a New Language?
In the movie, the Arab (Antonio Banderes) does not know the language of the Norsemen. He learns to speak their language by watching them. The first problem is that it appears he manages to learn their language in just a few days. That is pretty incredible. Even if that were possible, there would be one other problem. This is the fact that it's just a group of men alone. It would be almost impossible to learn the language without some kind of reference points. I could see him learning some simpler words like fire, horse, food. Things that he could observe them talking about and interacting with, but not becoming fluent in the language and certainly not so quickly.
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Contributed By:
Burak : LiveC00l on 01-12-2000
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Comments:
Richard writes:
You are both wrong. First, it is quite possible to learn a foriegn language in a small group without any help (the military uses a system quite similar). Second, the trip would take months to traverse on a boat, they just made it seem shorter so stupid people like yourselfs wouldn't get bored.
164 of 181 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Dreyfuss writes:
You wrote: "he could learn there language if it was latin based, which most languages were and are. And if he spoke latin he would be able to pick up there language with relative ease" Nope. He was travelling with NORSEMEN. Their languages are Germanic, not Latin. Totally different. On the other hand, it's possible that THEY might speak Latin (it was the primary trade language of the time) so he might have been able to communicate with them that way. But as for learning their language... I agree with the people who stated that the trip took months. Plenty of time to learn the language in a fully immersed environment like he was in. Let's face it: if there's only ONE language being spoken, and your survival depends on being able to communicate with the people speaking that language... you're gonna learn it, whether you want to or not! I think the way they portrayed the learning process was more for story-telling purposes... to show that he WAS learning it (rather than cutting directly to a scene where he's just talking with them) and to show just how much more intelligent he was than the "barbarians".
28 of 35 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
KellDragon writes:
In the book, the journey takes many months. I got the same impressions from the movie, it just didn't say that the journey took months. Listening is one of best ways to learn a new language. How do you think a child learns to speak? Not by reading. I study French and Japanese. It is through my advanced listening classes that I have learned the most, not by looking. I may hear the same thing over and over, but one day, the garbled nonsense turns into clear sentences.
21 of 23 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Leveler writes:
Besides the simple fact that it is A MOVIE, work of FICTION, and that you may have forgotten that these people lived together in a month or more of travel, it is most reasonably possible to learn an unknown language without a translator based on the fact that words related to actions are translated BY the actions.
12 of 17 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
lbedal writes:
At least he didn't learn the language in just a few MINUTES like in the Disney version of Pocahontas. That was truly magical!
11 of 16 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
El Gran Emperador writes:
First of all, Herger, the translator in the book, never died. He lived to the end of the book. Number two, the trip, I believe, is from somewhere around Romania to Norway. It would have taken well over a month for the entire trip.
6 of 8 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Master Pingüinô writes:
OK, first of all, this is not a slip-up, I agree with the comments about learning a new language by living with people for a period, of course not so fluently but it's possible (Imagine Banderas, saying Ea.. eat... eaterz of th.. th.. tee de.. derd.) . Of course, that sequence is a lot of nights put together. But the whole idea was not to put a translator for Ibn Fahdlan on the entire movie, - people get bored with that -, instead of that Fahdlan learns the language by himself, and the screenwriter was probably thinking the same thing as some of us, but he forgot that not everybody has the same thoughts. There.
7 of 11 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Spyke writes:
In the book the movie was based on, he had a translater at first(who dies eventually). Picking up from his translater, he learns their language. But since this is a movie adaptation of a book, they quickened the pace because stupid people would get bored waiting for someone to die.
6 of 10 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
MickProPer writes:
As regards the ability of the Banderas character to learn the Norse language merely by observation of his companions, it is important to remember that the Old Norse is, in fact, the primary basis (other than Latin) for the modern-day English language. Even at the time the movie is set in, the Norse had been well known as travelers and traders for several centuries. In fact, the sail design of the classic Viking "longship" was directly lifted from the Phoenecian ships which Norse traders encountered in the Mediteranian in the 7th or 8th century. By the time of the real heyday of the "vikings", a great many of the Norse words had already made their way into other languages, giving Banderas' character a foundation to work with. Try it yourself--do a favor for a Norwegiian, and hear "manny tousan tax" (many thousand thanks) as a result.
2 of 2 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
heofon writes:
Greg, at the beginning of the movie he didn't know anything about the Norse men. He asked about they're customs and had his friend try some languages on them to see if they could understand them. So apparently he didn't know any form of their language. Beat that!
4 of 7 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
J.Q. Publik writes:
As to the Latin comments, when he first meets the Norsemen, his companion speaks Latin to one of them, and translates it for Antonio. Apparently, he doesn't speak Latin.
5 of 9 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Wright1996 writes:
German is Latin-based? Whew....let's hope the linguists among us don't get a whiff of that one. Hey, I heard that Japanese is a Bantu language!!
7 of 13 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Lithium writes:
I can't believe you guys :P . If you had read the book by Michael Crichton, you would've known that the Arab guy didn't actually learn their language. One of the Norseman became a translator for him, and he depended on the Norseman to translate nearly everything. Now imagine that in the movie..who would want to listen to a strange language, being translated by some Viking?
6 of 11 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Valorie Bushido writes:
Latin & Germanic are only distantly related as separate branches of the Indo-European base. There syntax and etymology are noticeably different. Having studied linguistics, German, & Spanish, it would be a stretch to say they are in any way close. (And someone with a knack for languages can pick the basics up in a matter of days; fluency in a couple months.)
5 of 9 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
duder writes:
It is totally possible to learn a new language by listening, in fact it's the easiest way. Also did he seemed surprised when he saw the Norse mens boat? no he didn't I'm guessing he had met with Norse men before and had picked up the basics but never learned it properly and now he just tried harder to learn it
4 of 7 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
mercenary84 writes:
Yeah, well I read the book, and in the book he speaks latin to that one Viking (the one who calls him little brother all the time). He never learns the language.
3 of 6 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Greg writes:
Well.. you people forgot some things. First of all, he was an AMBASSADOR to the king and therefor knew many languages. its been a while since I watched the movie but I believe that he understands some of what they are saying giving off the possibility that he has learned the base language of the norsemen. beat that!
5 of 11 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
caazi writes:
In the book, they journey took around a year, that is more then enough time to learn a language that you only hear. And also, in the book, he didn't learn all of the language, he had a norse translator, they screen writer just wanted to speed it up, and make Ibn Fadlan look very smart.
2 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Snowblind writes:
Have you read the book? In the book Ibn Fadlan (Banderas) spoke through Herger, the blond North man, because both of them spoke Greek(I think it was Greek). They made him learn the language so that the movie wouldn't be boring, because really, who would watch a movie if you had to translate every second word?
2 of 5 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Veritas writes:
In the book, does the author have the Latin and Norse written out for us to see and (try) to read? I am thinking about getting the book and reading it. Also, the guy who brought up the fact that Antonio was an ambassador may imply that he does know a few languages. Back then, it is far more common to grow up speaking more than one language, such as Greek, Latin, or a language of a nearyby tribe/country. Learning one language, two, three, or four languages would make learning MORE languages easier. Just like kids quickly learn how to play a new game. It is Very simple to them.
0 of 1 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Mr. Bojangles writes:
he could learn there language if it was latin based, which most languages were and are. And if he spoke latin he would be able to pick up there language with relative ease.
7 of 16 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
tiamot writes:
The movie has a very mythical feel to it, so the way he 'magically' learned the language is not so out of place. I too noticed that he seemed to pick it up rather quickly, but I remembered that sea voyages take a long time AND that it's just a movie. Going over every small detail would really make things boring. I am an American living in a Norse country, and I picked up the language rather fast, so why can't some imaginary guy in a film?
2 of 6 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
scotty writes:
I agree with Greg, he most likely knew several languages already, possibly even German, since Germania covered most of Europe at one time. German is also Latin based, so if he new German he could pick up any Germanic language easily, and a knowledge of Latin would have helped him learn any European tounge other than Slavic languages. Don't forget that his companion in the beginning could speak Latin with one of the Norsemen.
4 of 13 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes


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