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December 2004, Week 4


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"Andrew Albert J. Ty" <[log in to unmask]>
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Andrew Albert J. Ty
Wed, 22 Dec 2004 13:14:02 +0800
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I unfortunately can't quote from it, since someone borrowed my copy, but Paul M. Sammon's Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner has a brief explanation about the mishmash language used in the film that I personally find interesting for obvious reasons:

One of the scriptwriters apparently was in the Philippines for a while and overheard a conversation that was spoken in Taglish, which is the term used for the way we Filipinos mix our English and Filipino words together. An example would be something like: "Na-complete ko na yung assignment ko about Blade Runner at natapos ko siya ng trenta minutos."

If I recall, the language in the film made use of other languages like Spanish and others, which are spoken by a more sizeable ethnic presence in the U.S., so solely-English-speakers will understand Blade Runner dialogue more than that example I just provided, which only throws in the (modified-spelling) Spanish near the end of the sentence.

Here's an excerpt from an online interview with Sammon at that might make for a clearer explanation:

GW: On to your background a bit. Were you born and raised in California?

PS : No. Basically, I’m a world citizen. I was born in Philadelphia, but my father was in the Military, the Navy. Then, when he retired, he was still young enough to start a second career. Which he did. First he trained with the CIA, in the early Sixties. Later he became a member of NCSU, the Naval Counterintelligence Support Unit. And throughout all this, we were constantly traveling, like any good military family. My first 20 years were mostly spent both in Japan – my brother was born there - and in the Philippines, on a couple of Naval bases named Sangley Point and Subic Bay. We also lived and traveled all over the United States; San Diego, Charleston, Washington DC, any place there was a significant Naval presence. But even today, I tend to think of the Philippines as home – even though I and my family are mostly Irish!

That reminds me of another connection between myself and Blade Runner. It’s one most people, particularly readers of Future Noir, would not know about, since I didn’t put it in the book. But after having spent so many years in the Philippines, I was really tickled when David Peoples told me he’d based "Cityspeak", BR’s street language, on conversations he’d overheard while riding in jeepneys around Manila. Conversations in Tagalog, the Philippines’ native tongue.

GW: What are jeepneys?

PS: These gaudy little trucks the Filipinos use for taxi cabs. Most of them are converted jeeps, extremely colorful ones; they have all these hanging decorations and pictures of patron saints inside. To catch a ride on a jeepney, you just run after one and hop aboard. They can hold six to eight people. Anyway, as I said, Tagalog is the official language of the Philippines. So when I found out that David Peoples’ had based Cityspeak on that, it was like my own version of six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, you know? I only remember a little Tagalog, by the way. Certainly not as much as I used to, even though I can still curse pretty fluently in Filipino (laughs). Anyway, I find it amusing that Blade Runner’s polyglot language got its start in the country where I grew up.

Hope this helps,

Tuesday, December 21, 2004, 9:15:53 AM, you wrote:

> original text. I don't know how the screenwriter handled the foreign
> language component in BLADE RUNNER. (It's adapted from a novel--by
> Philip Dick, I believe--and that original source may be useful.)

> Kalynn Huffman Brower
> Indiana University

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