Film Clips for Ling 057 'Language and Popular Culture'

H. Schiffman, Instructor

  1. These clips are all from Phenomenon

    1. George, the owner of a service station in a rural California town, is established as a person trying to learn Spanish, but not doing too well at it. Other characters are either native speakers, or non-native speakers who constantly translate for him.

    2. Macho Bueno. George continues to display his inept command of Spanish by referring to something as 'macho bueno' (instead of muy bueno ) to his friend the doctor.

    3. It's George's 37th birthday and he's out in the street toasting the sky, when a blast of light comes down and bowls him over. He picks himself up and goes back into the tavern, but nobody else heard or saw the blast. But George then suddenly makes a chess move that 'checkmates' his partner, the doctor, which he's never done before.

    4. George explains that he's essentially insomniac after the blast, so he spends all his time doing crossword puzzles, reading, and learning all kinds of stuff.

    5. A psychologist comes to test George's intelligence, since he's been demonstrating strange capabilities. George aces the tests and totally discombobulates the tester.

    6. George suddenly speaks Spanish fluently, much to the shock of his co-workers, who previously had to prompt him and correct him constantly.

    7. George is called to the scene of an accident, and asked to learn Portuguese on the way. He speaks to an old man who speaks only Portuguese, whose grandson is lost somewhere. George helps find the boy. When asked if he learned Portuguese in twenty minutes, George replies ``Not all of it."

    8. George's African-American friend needs a housekeeper and cook and when a Portuguese-speaking woman comes to apply for the job, the Friend tries to speak the Portuguese words George has taught him, to comic effect, since George has taught him to say `You're beautiful' and other cute things.

      What are we to learn from this? That a blast of energy that suddenly makes George very smart (actually a brain tumor) allows him to do many spectacular mental feats, including learning languages, in no time flat! Moral of the story is: language learning is hard but if you're a genius, or even have a brain disorder, no prob!