"Acting is the ability to live truthfully under imaginary circumstances." -- Sanford Meisner


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Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Wine Kaki This Week

Kaki means 'leg' in Malay. However, "Wine Kaki" does not mean 'Wine Leg', but 'Wine Buddy'. Similarly, "Hentak Kaki" does not mean 'Shock Leg', but about one 'hitting the glass ceiling'. Wine making is my other love next to acting and film making. :)

This week, I share my grape wine with my friend Gillian Tan at Tiong Bahru, after the shoot for the Singapore Writer's Festival's "Tin Kosong", directed by Saniff Olek.

Here's a trailer of Utter 2014, which "Tin Kosong" is part of.

Watch this space for the next edition of "My Wine Kaki This Week!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Speak Good English Movement

My blog post "Slang, Lingo and Colloquialism" has got me invited to the launch of the "Speak Good English Movement" on the 28th May 2014. The Movement, probably unique to Singapore, emphasizes the use of proper standard English. 

Singapore is a country comprising many races, languages and dialects. When I was a kid, I spoke mostly Chinese dialects, no Mandarin and some English and Malay. Fast forward forty years and the government had since rationalised the Chinese language to mean Mandarin and the common language among all races to be English. However, given the interesting cocktail of languages spoken locally, English as it is spoken soon slipped sloppily into Singlish. And now Singlish has taken into a life on its own and by its current form has already become mostly unintelligible to foreigners. This is what got the government worried and hence, the Movement.

I have lived and worked in Europe, Africa, Australia and different parts of Asia. For me then, it was essential to speak a form of English that is understood by everyone - sometimes I even slow down and pick simpler words when I communicate with non-native speakers.

However, when it comes to films, the debate is not just whether it should merely communicate with the  audience, but also portray the culture as it is - untainted.

The argument is whether standard English, or for that matter, standard Mandarin, or any other standard languages ought to be used instead of their localised forms. Recently, a seasoned film maker told me that any film made strictly in any standard language will not be watched by many people because nobody speaks purely in any standard language in real life. He cited that even Hollywood films do not speak standard English, but their own form including many slangs and colloquialisms.

I do agree, but I think Hollywood also knows that if they do go overboard with their slangs and colloquialisms, then they are also likely to lose their audience. So I suspect that they do choose their words carefully to portray the local culture but also to make sure that they are intelligible to non-native speakers.

I guess the secret lies in the balance. That is, what language subsets should I use such that I project the local culture while I make the film understood by the critical mass. And it will be a bonus, if the lingo chosen, though not universal, would sound catchy and smooth enough to start a new trend.