August 30, 2007

Language in song

During Spring Break of 2003—my last at Brown—I went on a road trip to Québec with my friend Theresa. It was a great trip, but I remember being disappointed in one respect: she vetoed playing French stations on the radio, which I had actually sort of looked forward to. It might be a false feeling, but I like listening to audiostreams in other languages, even ones I don't speak well or at all, because I like the feeling of immersing myself in a different culture. (When I lived in Providence, I would occasionally switch the TV to RTP for the same reason.) If it's in music, it's even better, because you get all that feeling of foreignness while also getting some perfectly good music. Theresa didn't like not being able to understand the lyrics.

This was brought to mind just a few minutes ago when "Honey honey" started playing on my iTunes shuffle—in Swedish. Now, I don't speak a word of Swedish, and that song is even available in English, but somehow I like the foreign version better. Indeed, I have an awful lot of foreign-language stuff in my catalogue, probably more than most, including quite a few languages I don't speak at all.

Which inspired me to write a blog post listing all the languages represented in my iTunes library. :) Here they are, in approximately ascending order of frequency:

  1. Maori
  2. Catalan
  3. Kreyol
  4. Bulgarian
  5. Arabic (Maghreb)
  6. Romanian
  7. Welsh
  8. Hebrew
  9. Swedish
  10. Norwegian
  11. Hindi (?)
  12. One or more from sub-Saharan Africa
  13. Portuguese
  14. Irish
  15. Hawaiian
  16. German
  17. Italian
  18. Yiddish
  19. French
  20. Latin
  21. Spanish
  22. English
Oddly enough, only the first five are singletons. Conspicuous in its absence is the entirety of east and southeast Asia; I certainly have Europe and the Western Hemisphere covered, and at least a scattering from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Actually, it's also a little weird that there's no Russian or Greek. I think I'll have to remedy that. :)

On the Iowa straw poll: "It's an election with no Democrats, in one of the whitest states in the Union, where rich candidates pay you $35 for your vote. Or as the Republicans call it, 'our vision for the future'." --Jon Stewart

Posted by blahedo at 7:19pm on 30 Aug 2007
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