LINGUIST List 5.1193

Sat 29 Oct 1994

FYI: Fun: Movie for Linguists...starring James Spader

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  1. Victoria L. Bergvall, A Movie for Lingists!
  2. Larry Horn, ...starring James Spader as The Linguist

Message 1: A Movie for Lingists!

Date: Tue, 25 Oct 1994 09:38:18 A Movie for Lingists!
From: Victoria L. Bergvall <>
Subject: A Movie for Lingists!

>>Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 14:08:11 -0400
>>Sender: English Language Discussion Group <WORDS-LUGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
>>From: Myles Callum <MCALLUMDELPHI.COM>
>>Subject: A Movie for Lingists!
>>At last, there's a movie just for all you linguists: "Stargate,"
>>a $55-million space epic in which James Spader plays a specialist
>>in linguistics and actors have to speak their lines in
>>hieroglyphics. It also stars Kurt Russell and Jaye Davidson.
>>"Yimyu ma-yay naturru tee," says Spader, which, as I'm sure you
>>all know, is Ra-speak for "Take a look at your gods!"
>>This is the first and last post I will ever do on linguistics.

Perhaps it's been a long time since I looked at phonetics seriously, but
just *how* does one speak in "hieroglyphics" anyway?

Victoria L. Bergvall

snail mail:
-Dept. of Humanities,
-Michigan Tech. U.
-1400 Townsend Drive
-Houghton, MI 49931-1295

phone: (906) 487-3260
fax: (906) 487-3559
home: (906) 482-7801
or (906) 482-1636 (answering machine)
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Message 2: ...starring James Spader as The Linguist

Date: Tue, 25 Oct 94 22:34:14 ED...starring James Spader as The Linguist
From: Larry Horn <>
Subject: ...starring James Spader as The Linguist

According to the New York Times (Oct. 23, 1994), a new big-budget
"science-fiction adventure film" called Stargate will be opening next Friday.
The main star is "a specialist in linguistics", played by James Spader, and he
is supported by "Jaye Davidson as Ra, an alien impersonating the sun god".
THe main characters play modern descendants of ancient Egyptians who were
exiled to the planet Abydos around 8000 B.C. and were "required to speak their
lines in the long-dead language of the hieroglyphics". Or, more precisely, in
a language descended from hieroglyphic Egyptian whose properties were
reconstructed by extrapolating backward from Coptic and which is called Ra
(not to be confused with the eponymous sun god OR the alien impersonating
him). Evidently the female lead, Mili Avital, does a good job on the accent,
although she "had an obvious advantage, since she already spoke Hebrew and
Aramaic", both related to Ra (as I'm sure the comparativists would be able to
confirm). The other actors struggled, apparently, with Mr. Davidson reduced
to "reading cue cards and having his voice electronically altered", although
he does get to wear some lovely gowns. Evidently, his lines (one is
transcribed as "Rrridiaouw woo oo rrriou", glossed as 'There can only be one
Ra') were a bit too much for him. Mr. Spader was somewhat better on "Yimyu
ma-yay naturru tee", 'Take a look at your gods'. But then he is a linguist,
after all.

Larry Horn
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