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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The words we use » » Pattering in Foreign Languages (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

trampabroad
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New user
81 Posts

Profile of trampabroad
Hi all,

So I'm working in Beijing and trying to be better at magic.

Problem is, my Mandarin, while good enough to get by, is bad enough that I probably sound like an idiot to most audiences. And I don't like sounding like an idiot.

Should I:

1. Tolerate the embarrassment and try to patter in painfully awkward Chinese?

2. Speak in English and lose a big fraction of the audience?(this varies a lot depending on the crowd; lots of people here speak English but not everybody)

Or 3. Be mute and focus on body language?

Anyone else trying to do magic in a foreign lingo?
aheads
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Stockholm, Sweden
188 Posts

Profile of aheads
I know what you mean and am too struggling with a similar problem. I'm a native English speaker but I live in Sweden. I can speak Swedish fluently and have no problem working, acting and performing in Swedish. But I am working on a new type of show now and for some reason my patter is coming out stilted and I am making mistakes.

Normally, if I'm working to a script, then I need to know it inside and out so that I can deviate from it and "talk around" it should I need to. I sometimes forget a word and have to approach the story from a different angle. This is frustrating because I know how easy it would be if I could only just do it in my native language. For this show, I have a script and I know it inside out. I'm just having trouble articulating it and finding the nuances of the language.

I know that in my wn language I could talk rings around my audience and tangle them up in my web of stories, sweep them along on a river of narrative etc but using a foreign language limits my creativity and flexibility. The other problem is that the Swedish language is very plain and simple and does not allow for much play on words. A cat is a cat no matter how you try to dress it up.

I would suggest that you try a mixture of 1 & 2. Use simple language (advancing as you learn) to frame the piece and then perform to music and concentrate on body language. Good luck!
All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream
jimbhuna
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6 Posts

Profile of jimbhuna
Jump in and go for it, find a friend to help translate for you but also use actions to describe what you want people to do, ambitious card in a foreign country is hilarious.
I have performed (drunk) in a Madeiran nightclub to a group of young non-english speaking partygoers with the music so loud it mattered not we did not speak, an also to a group of Spaniards after an afternoon of Paella with one person roughly translating, eventually I just went with body language and expressions.
Makes you really think afterwards about what you say and why and the importance of connecting with people on more than just a vocal level.
I think I had more fun doing those sessions than anything in an english bar or party!
Patrick Differ
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Inner circle
1540 Posts

Profile of Patrick Differ
Work with a native speaker of the language to translate the nuances correctly. Watch other magicians who perform in that language. I live in Mexico and speak Spanish as a second language. It took quite a while before I was able to use the language well enough to manipulate and control the audiences' thought processes.
Will you walk into my parlour? said the Spider to the Fly,
Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.

Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.
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