Contemplating Romance Languages

I took four years of French in high school and consider my writing and reading comprehension stronger than my speaking and listening skills.  Over a month ago, I became preoccupied with the idea of learning Spanish via French, possibly picking up some Italian vocabulary too (and Portuguese eventually).  I knew there would be cognates, guessing that many adjectives and nouns would be similar.

One night, I looked up random words in French and translated them into Spanish and then Italian.  I was intrigued by the permutations/combinations of the possible similarities and differences.  For instance, the French and Spanish would be cognates and the Italian wouldn’t, the French and Italian would be cognates and the Spanish wouldn’t, the Spanish and Italian would be cognates and the French wouldn’t, all of them would be cognates or none of them would look anything alike.

From left to right, French = Spanish = Italian = Portuguese.  Words in blue are not like the others, words in green are not like each other at all, words in magenta are very similar to the others:

Pourquoi pas = porque no = perchè no = por que não
Merci beaucoup = muchas gracias = grazie mólto = muito obrigado
Pas du tout = para nada = per niente = de jeito nenhum
Peut-être = puede ser = forse = talvez 
Dépêchez-vous = darse prisa = sbrigati = se apresse
s’il vous plaît = por favor = per piecere = por favor
Jamais = nunca = mai = nunca

J’ai faim = tengo hambre = ho fame = eu estou com fome
Je te vois = te veo = ti vedo = eu te vejo
Je suis en accord = estoy de acuerdo = sono d’accordo = eu concordo
D’accord = correcto = va bene = OK
Je sais = yo se = lo so = eu sei
Je ne sais pas = No sé = non lo so = não sei
Je m’appelle = me llamo = mi chiamo = meu nome é
Je pense que oui = creo que sí = credo di si = eu penso que sim

Un peu = un poco = un po = um pouco
Mon ami = mi amigo = mio amico = minha amiga
Le fromage = el queso = formaggio = gueijo
L’eau = el agua = l’acqua = a água
Le soleil = el sol = il sole = o sol

La mer = el mar = mare = o mar
La piscine = la piscina = la piscina = a piscina
La plage = la playa = la spiaggia = a praia
La voiture = el coche = la macchina = o carro
Le stylo jaune = el bolígrafo amarillo = la penna gialla = a caneta amarela
Le ciel bleu = el cielo azul = il cielo azzurro = o céu azul
Le chien = el perro = il cane = o cachorro
Le petit chien = el perrito = il cagnolino = o cachorrinho
Le chat = el gato = gatto = gato
Le petit chat = el gatito = il gattino = o gatinho
Le miracle = el milagro = il miracolo = o milagre


My favorite example of all the words as cognates would have to be the words for “swimming pool” (la piscine, la piscina, la piscina, and a piscina).  My favorite examples of none of the words being similar to each other are the words for “the car” (la voiture, el coche, la macchina, o carro) and “okay/all right” (d’accord, correcto, va bene, OK).  My favorite example of the French being the odd one out is for the word “water” (l’eau).  The Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese all sound like “aqua,” but the French wants to be different.

Another good example of when the French wants to be unlike the others is the translation for “the last unicorn”:

la dernière licorne = el ultimo unicornio = l’ultimo unicorno = o ultimo Unicórnio

The 25th Anniversary edition DVD of The Last Unicorn (Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin Jr., 1982) comes with Spanish subtitles (of the songs too).  When I rewatched it tonight, of course I put them on to see how many cognates there were with French and even English.


This animated film can be considered a musical because there are three songs that are sung in the story world.  One of them is “Now That I’m a Woman.”  It’s a pretty short one, so I decided to compile the Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese translations of the English lyrics.

En Anglais:
Once,  I can’t remember

I was long ago, someone strange
I was innocent and wise and full of pain

Now that I’m a woman
Everything is strange.

Once, when I was searching
somewhere out of reach, far away
In a place I could not find
or heart obey

Now that I’m a woman
Everything has changed.

En Espagnol:
Una vez, y no puedo recordarlo

Hache mucho tiempo, fui, alguien extraño
Era inocente y sabio y estaba lleno de dolor

Ahora que soy una mujer
Todo es extraño

Una vez, cuando estaba buscando
Un lugur distante, muy lejano
En un lugar que no podia encontrar
Ni mi corazon podia obedecer

Ahora que soy una mujer
Todo ha cambiado.

En Français:
Une fois, je ne me souviens pas
J’étais jadis quelqu’un étrange
J’étais innocente et sage et plein de douleur

Maintenant que je suis une femme
Le tout est étrange

Une fois quand je cherchais
Quelque part éloigné, loin
Dans un endroit que je ne pouvais pas trouver
Mon coeur n’obéira pas non plus

Maintenant que je suis une femme
Le tout a changé.

En Italienne:
Una volta, non riesco a ricordare
tempo fa ero persona stana
Ero innocente e saggio e pieno di dolore

Ora che sono una donna
è tutto strano

Una volta, quando stavo cercando
da qualche parte lontano, lontano
in posto che non sono riuscito a trovare
nemmeno il mio cuore potrebbe obbedire

Ora che sono una donna
tutto è cambiato.

En Portugais:
Uma vez, eu não consigo lembrar
muito tempo atrás eu era alguém estranho
Eu era inocente e sábio e cheio de dor

Agora que sou mulher
Tudo é estranho

Uma vez, quando eu estave procurando
Em algum lugar distante, longe
Em um lugar que eu não consegui encontrar
Nem mesmo meu coração poderia obedecer

Agora que sou mulher
Tudo mudou.

How to Deal with Bandits and Love

Based on Sarah Dessen’s novel Someone Like You, How to Deal (Clare Kilner, 2003) features the following conversation between Halley (Mandy Moore) and Macon (Trent Ford):

Macon: The point is that you put the words into somebody’s mouth and they give them back to you like they’ve come up with the idea.  Like when I ask you to go out with me this Friday night, you’re gonna think you’re the one asking me because you’re gonna say, “I would love to go out with you because I know we’ll have a totally great time together.  In fact, I’ve been hoping you’d ask me all week.”

Halley: You wanna go out on a date with me?
Macon: See? I told you you’d ask me.
Halley: Oh Macon, I think I like you too much already to actually go out with you.
Macon: What kind of logic is that?

Halley: It’s logical logic.  The quickest way to ruin a relationship with someone is to actually try to have a relationship with them.  Haven’t you noticed when the opposite sex gets together, eventually someone ends up getting hurt?


Barry Levinson‘s superb crime-comedy Bandits (2001) includes a spectacularly random utterance of “beavers and ducks” and this observation by Terry (Billy Bob Thornton):

Terry: Love is a wish that hides in your heart and nobody knows about it but you.  Love is blinding, an eternity in a single moment, a religion worth dying for, and it’s also time-consuming.


Cate Blanchett is sublime in this film.

Pic creds: Amazon, IMDB

But will Julio Jones get a Funko Pop in blue?

Three years ago I obtained a Julio Jones Funko Pop doll.  The former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver is now a Tennessee Titan.


I’ve wondered in the past if “it’s easier to or even feasible to cheer for a specific player or a team as a whole vis-a-vis basketball, baseball, football, futbol, hockey, or rugby (and volleyball if we want to go there).  Some fans don’t care so much who is dunking, pitching, making touchdowns, or scoring goals so long as their team wins. Other fans pay much more attention to specific players and will transfer their support wherever these players go.”

I’m looking forward to football this year in a way that I really haven’t in a very long time.  I’m curious to see how close the Falcons will get to the playoffs with a new head coach and general manager and how well Julio will do in the Volunteer State.  If he impresses as much as he did when he was a Falcon, will he get a Titan Funko Pop doll?  If so, I’m definitely going to get one.

D-Day was 77 years ago

If you’ve been alive for more than a quarter of a century and think back on learning about World War II in high school; if you’ve known people who served in the military during WWII and have heard first-hand stories about life during the 1940s, then the memory of D-Day may not seem that long ago.  Upon doing the math, however, seventy-seven years actually does impress one has a long time.  A twenty-year-old soldier, medic, intelligence analyst, or translator would be pushing a century of living now.  Moreover, nearly eighty years ago, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe were both still alive.




I came across this article that originally published by John Orloff for Task & Purpose that delves into some of the details on how the TV mini-series Band of Brothers (2001) came together.  I found this passage particularly relevant to present-day work collaborations — and they did it without all the virtual collaboration devices, software programs, and high-speed internet that many people have been relying upon in the last year:

And then there was the concern (by the writers) of a certain unevenness in the show. There were seven writers, and surprisingly little communication between us. One lived in Paris, another on a boat in San Francisco, another in Carmel, and the rest in Los Angeles. We had exactly one “all hands” meeting, and barely talked story during any of it. We pretty much each focused on our own episodes, trusting that Tom [Hanks] and Steven [Spielberg] would make sure it all fit together.

Just like the freely moving camera of ER (1994-2009) forever altered how producers and audiences envisioned the possible behavior of TV cameras, Band of Brothers rewrote the visual conventions for both cable and broadcast TV programming:

Band of Brothers was one of the very first TV shows to be shot and broadcast in widescreen — at a time when very few televisions were made that way (most people originally saw the show with black bars on the top and bottom of their square TV screens). Same thing with the sound. Tom and Steven insisted that it be mixed like a movie, in surround sound, when very few people had home surround systems. I am convinced that if we had not done these things — at Steven’s insistence, by the way — that today, the show would look and hear antiquated, as if from another era. Instead, technically, it still holds its own against any movie or TV show made today.




Pic creds: Amazon,

Memorably Midway

I remarked in my last entry that I didn’t feel the need to see Midway (Roland Emmerich, 2019) anymore after having watched Nick Hodges’s (aka History Buffs) videos on the film.  But then, after learning there was a 1976 version produced by Walter Mirisch and starring Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, Hal Holbrook, Glenn Ford, James Coburn (in one scene), Robert Mitchum (in one scene), Toshiro Mifune, James Shigeta, Pat Morita (yes, as in Mr. Miyagi), and Tom Selleck (yes, as in Magnum PI) among others, I felt I owed it to myself to watch both of the films on Memorial Day 2021.

MidChemin2019_2  MidChemin1976_2

I wasn’t interested in evaluating them in terms of which I thought was “better,” but I was curious to know which film would resonate with me more or would leave a stronger impression.  The 1976 version begins with this onscreen text:

This is the way it was — the story of the battle that was the turning point of the War in the Pacific, told wherever possible with actual film shot during combat.  It exemplifies the combination of planning, courage, error and pure chance by which great events are often decided.

It then proceeds to “USS Hornet April 18, 1942” and footage of planes dropping bombs on a city.  As a car speeds into the frame, onscreen text indicates that we’re in “Hiroshima, April 18, 1942.”  The film introduces Admiral Yamamoto (Toshiro Mifune) as the first major character.  Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka (Pat Morita) has arrived to inform Yamamoto that “Tokyo has been bombed…Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Yosuka were also bombed.”  Along with the audience, Yamamoto learns that the US “launched long-range land-based bombs from their carriers…B-25’s.  They came at treetop level and weren’t seen until they were over the city.”

Next, there’s a voice-over with Pearl Harbor as the backdrop, “Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle led the raid with a force of sixteen B-25’s…and an all-volunteer crew of airmen.  Most of the planes carried three 500-pound demolition bombs…and single incendiary clusters, which were dropped on oil stores, factory areas, and some of the military installations of Tokyo.  A few planes went on to make minor strikes on Kobe and Yokohama, one bomb hitting the Japanese aircraft carrier, Niyuko.

The film ends with this onscreen text:

The annals of war at sea present no more intense, heart-shaking shock than this battle, in which the qualities of the United States Navy and Air Force and the American race shone forth in splendour.  The bravery and self-devotion of the American airmen and sailors and the nerve and skill of their leaders was the foundation of all. — Winston Churchill

The filmmakers’ thank you note: We desire to express grateful appreciation to the Department of Defense and the United States Navy for the cooperation which was extended on the production of this picture.  We especially salute the officers and men of the U.S.S. Lexington on whose ship many of the sequences were filmed.

Technical Advisor: Vice Admiral Bernard M. Strean, US Navy (retired)

Hal Holbrook was a scene-stealer as Commander Joseph Rochefort.

The 2019 version begins with this onscreen text: This is a true account of the events that led to the most important naval battle in American history.  One single day that turned the tide of the War in the Pacific.

The opening sequence establishes the “reason” for why the Japanese military felt it necessary to attack Pearl Harbor.  As Admiral Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa) explains to then assistant naval attaché Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) on December 4, 1937 in Tokyo, Japan’s invasion of China gave them a strong appetite to become a world power.  The majority of their oil came from the United States and if that supply were to be threatened, there would be consequences.

The next set of onscreen text: Four years later, the world is at war.  Japan has invaded China and Hitler’s blitzkrieg has overrun Europe.  The United States has remained officially neutral.

And then Pearl Harbor happens.

The 2019 Midway ends with this onscreen text: This film is dedicated to the American and Japanese sailors who fought at Midway.  The sea remembers its own.

Miltary expertise:
Harlan Glenn — Military Wardrobe Master, Senior Military Technical Adviser, key military costumer
Ed Fox — consultant, military, Battle of Midway veteran (as Sgt. Ed Fox)
John F. Miniclier — consultant, military, Battle of Midway veteran (as Col. John F. Miniclier)
Rob Scratch Mitchell — aerial coordinator/pilot advisor (as Robert ‘Scratch’ Mitchell)
Chuck Myers — technical advisor: aircraft carrier
James Neuman — naval historian
Chika Onyekanne — historian: US Naval (as Lt. Chika Onyekanne U LT NHHC)
Thom Walla — consultant: military, host of The Battle of Midway roundtable

Brennan Brown‘s screentime as Rochefort is not as plentiful as Hal Holbrook’s.

Rather than get into the storyline differences or even similarities (because I think you should watch both films if you have the slightest interest in military history or war films), I’ll share a few of the things I learned from the making-of featurettes for both films.

1976 version:
~ Charlton Heston was at Northwestern studying acting in 1942.  Rather than wait to be drafted, he enlisted in the Air Force because he liked planes.
~ Walter Mirisch had seen John Ford‘s documentary, produced by the Navy, The Battle of Midway (which the 2019 version humorously alludes to in a couple of scenes where the director [played by Geoffrey Blake] is shown location-scouting).  And later he saw The Fighting Lady, produced by Louis De Rochefort, which inspired the background story of the film.
~ Mirisch gave director Jack Smight (who’d just directed Airport 1975) three books on Midway to read.
~ Mirisch used archival footage for many of the battle scenes and had to blow up 16mm film into 35mm film.
~ All battle footage cost $60,000 to repurpose from the Navy.  Per editor Frank J. Urioste, the opening sequence was black and white footage from Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo that they turned sepia; footage from Tora! Tora! Tora! was used for the attack on Midway; some footage from a Japanese film was used for the POV of their planes taking off.
~ Mirisch insisted on including the opening text indicating that there would be a lot of actual battle footage.  He’d started out wanting to make a documentary about Midway but realized that he needed starpower to get it made.
~ Mirisch and Charlton Heston had worked on The Hawaiians and were both World War II enthusiasts.  Captain Matt Garth (Heston) was a fictional character.
~ On why casting is so important.  Mirisch reflects, “It was always my intention, if I could possibly succeed in doing it, to people the picture with an all-star cast because I felt that the star, the personality brings something to a role. It allows for more economical writing because the audience fills it in for you when they see actors of a stripe of a James Coburn or Henry Fonda or Robert Mitchum playing roles.”
~ Toshiro Mifune had all of his costumes made in Japan to ensure historical accuracy.  He brought the director a samurai sword on the first day of shooting.
~ The film did really well in Japan.
~ About forty minutes of additional footage was filmed for the TV broadcast, including some scenes of Garth’s domestic life.
Production Notes:
~ Filming locations: Pensacola, FL; Universal Studios, Point Mugu naval facilities, Fort MacArthur, and Terminal Island.
~ Technical advisor Vice Admiral Bernard M. Strean had led a squadron in the first attack on the Japanese fleet army during the Battle of the Philippines.
~ Toshiro Mifune’s first Hollywood film and second portrayal of Yamamoto, whom was not a favorite historical figure of his.
~ Robert Mitchum only agreed to play Admiral Halsey because there would only be one day of shooting … in bed.
~ Henry Fonda served under Nimitz in Guam (whom he played in the film).  Glenn Ford served under Admiral Spruance (whom he played in the film).  Robert Mitchum met Halsey after the war.

2019 version:
~ The writer Wes Tooke has always had a fascination with military history, specifically the Pacific in WWII.  Tooke’s grandfather was in the Navy (Capt. Charles M. Tooke).  Roland Emmerich had always wanted to make a movie about Midway.
~ B-25’s were not rebuilt, but everything else was.
~ Emmerich notes the importance of casting because the actors are the ones on the screen.  Screenplay is the most important, then casting, then directing.

Which film did I enjoy more?  Which film would I watch again first?  The 1976 version.   Et pourquoi?  It’s more about battle, especially at sea, as a series of chess moves.  It’s a slightly more cerebral movie.  I also like the way it started with the bombing of Tokyo.  And yet, I like the 2019’s depiction of the discord between the Japanese army and navy (as Nick Hodges mentions in one of his videos).  As for general subject matter, Roland Emmerich’s Midway is a much more satisfying experience than Michael Bay‘s Pearl Harbor (2001).  I remember getting a bit snotty while watching it in the theatre and thinking it wasn’t very good, but I don’t recall why.  It’s turning twenty this year.  I’m considering watching it again to see if I still get snotty and if it jogs my memory on why I didn’t like it.

Of course, after watching both Midways back-to-back, I decided to start reading Michel Paradis‘s book Last Mission to Tokyo (which I’ve had for months).  I’m not done reading Jake Tapper’s The Outpost yet either.  But, I’m in the final leg.