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Language Matters
(including Cityspeak, Blimp Ad and full Noodle Bar scene)

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What are the languages used in BR?

The languages spoken are English, Chinese, Japanese and "Cityspeak".

 

What is "Cityspeak"?

Cityspeak is a mixture of words and expressions from Spanish, French, Chinese, German, Hungarian and Japanese. The "conversation" between Deckard and Gaff in the beginning of BR is an example of this.

 

Translation of the noodle bar scene dialogue (with comments):

(Provided by and with introduction by Netrunner)


The Noodle Bar scene:

Gaff speaks to Deckard at the Noodle BarThe Noodle Bar is where we first meet Deckard, hear the (sometimes indistinct) advertising blimp, listen to the Noodle Bar counterman speaking Japanese and meet Gaff, with his unusual Cityspeak. This scene is thus the source of many questions, particularly about what precisely is being said.

Although transcripts and translations of this scene exist in hundreds of places on the Web, 99.9% of those are copies and are based on the original work of just a few people. We thank those few for their hard work, but note that they all contain definite mistakes and omissions, (including Future Noir!). We now take that work further, in order to get the best possible transcription and translation for everyone. It isn't perfect, (will it ever be), but it is the best version available. If you have anything you can add, we would love to hear from you.


Sources:

  •   Various versions of scripts, supplemented by interviews.
  •   A few people's translations to start from.
  •   My own small knowledge of European languages and Japanese. Now supplemented by Adam H. and eMU confirming the Hungarian lines and MJS confirming the Japanese lines.
  •   Netrunner's definitive Blimp transcription, giving both the OV and DC lines.

Background to Cityspeak:

Blade Runner GaffEdward James Olmos (who played Gaff) was originally given a very small character role to play. His input is what created the character we know and he obviously inspired Scott et al, as the character not only became considerably more interesting, but also more important to the film. The character, even in the last script, was officious, envious of Deckard and much less of a person. And he was to speak straight Japanese, (intended to have English subtitles).

Olmos (with Scott) added more nationalities into Gaff's origins, plus the multilingual abilities. Olmos said, "The first idea of mine was to take some different real languages and mix them down, such as French, Chinese, German and Japanese. Then I went to the Berlitz School of Languages in Los Angeles, and translated and learned to pronounce all these little pieces of dialogue. It was something strange, but it was fitting well into Gaff." Mr Olmos has some Hungarian Jewish background, hence the incorporation of some Hungarian in Cityspeak.


Problems in translating Cityspeak:

  •   How do you transcribe sounds you don't understand if you don't even know which language is being used for which word?
  •   There were considerable changes to Gaff's character and lines during filming, so the final script only helps a little.
  •   As far as we know, Olmos hasn't left us with his own transcription.
  •   Attempts to translate have to make assumptions of language used. Although one line is in three different languages, his next line is all Hungarian.
  •   Some of the speech is slang and therefore a standard dictionary is not going to cut it, but intelligent guesses and invaluable assistance from native speakers of those languages have helped us translate the whole scene.
  •   Olmos did an excellent job in his creating and speaking of the different scraps in coherent sentences, but the fact is that it is still street lingo and thus any "mistakes" he may have made in words or pronunciation are irrelevant as they can be simply part of Cityspeak.

Note: In the following, I no longer label anything as "Cityspeak", but rather list just the actual languages that make up the non-English lines.


- NOODLE BAR SCENE -


Blade Runner Deckard reads his newspaper{Rainy, busy street scene. Deckard reading newspaper while waiting for a spot to open up at the White Dragon Noodle Bar.}



Blimp: A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure.

Sushi Master: {To a customer} Nani ni shimasho ka. [Japanese: "What would you like to have?"]

Blade Runner Blimp advertises Off-WorldBlimp: A new life awaits you in the Off-World Colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. Lets go to the Colonies!

<<OV only>>
Blimp: New climate, recreational facilities ...



Deckard (voiceover): They don't advertise for killers in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-cop, ex-blade runner, ex-killer.

Blimp: ... absolutely free.
<<End OV>>

<<DC only>>
Blimp: This announcement has been brought to you by the Shimago-Dominguez Corporation. Helping America into the New World.
<<End DC>>

Blimp: {Continues over some of the following dialogue} Use your new friend as a personal body servant or a tireless field hand - the custom tailored genetically engineered humanoid replicant designed especially for your needs. So come on America, lets put our team up there ...

Sushi Master: {To Deckard} Kimashita, kimashita! Irasshai, irasshai! [Japanese: "Come, come. Welcome, welcome!" ]

{Deckard goes over to Sushi Bar.}

Sushi Master in Blade RunnerSushi Master: Sa dozo. [Japanese: "Come, please." (sit down here)]

{Deckard sits where Sushi Master indicates.}

Sushi Master: Nani ni shimasho ka. [Japanese: "What would you like to have?"]

Deckard: {Points} Give me four.

Sushi Master: Futatsu de jubun desu yo. [Japanese: "Two is enough!"]

Deckard: No. Four. Two, two, four.

Sushi Master: Futatsu de jubun desu yo. [Japanese: "Two is enough!"]

Deckard: {Resignedly} And noodles.

Sushi Master: Wakatte kudasai yo. [Japanese: "Please understand!" (Actually implying sarcastically, "Can't you understand?") He knows Deckard by name, so this is probably a familiar jibing between the two.]

Blade Runner Deckard is a cold fish<<OV only>>
Deckard (voiceover): Sushi, that's what my ex-wife called me. Cold fish.
<<End OV>>



Policeman: Hey, idi-wa. [Korean: "Hey, come here." {Thanks to Mark Taylor for confirmation.}]

Blade Runner Deckard is interruptedGaff: Monsieur, azonnal kövessen engem bitte. [French-Hungarian-German: "Sir, follow me immediately please!" (Thanks to eMU for translating the Hungarian part:- "azonnal" - means immediately; "kövessen" - means follow imperative; "engem" - means me. And of course "Monsieur" is French for Sir and "bitte" is German for please.)]



{Deckard gestures to Sushi Master to translate. (The script had Deckard not understanding the original Japanese. The subsequent voiceover said of course he actually understood Cityspeak. So whether he really understands or not is pretty much your choice!)}

Gaff talks to Deckard at the Noodle Bar in Blade RunnerSushi Master: He say you under arrest, Mr. Deckard.

Deckard: You got the wrong guy, pal.

Gaff: Lófaszt, nehogy már. Te vagy a Blade ... Blade Runner. [Hungarian: "Horsedick, no way! You are the Blade ... Blade Runner." (Thanks to Adam H. and eMU for confirming this Hungarian.)]

Sushi Master: He say you 'Brade Runner'.

Deckard: Tell him I'm eating.

Gaff: Captain Bryant toka. Me ni omae yo. [Japanese: "Captain Bryant wants to see your mug in front of his immediately!" (This is a loose translation. "Me ni omae yo" is a sort of pun. "Me ni mae" means to meet someone. "omae" is the very informal use of "you" - in Japanese, this is significant. "yo" - Exclamation - Japanese doesn't use the '!' punctuation. Thanks to Michael J. Simon for sorting out this line. I think "toka" in this sense marks information from someone else. - Netrunner)]

Deckard and Gaff leave in a SpinnerDeckard: Bryant, huh?

Gaff: Hai! [Japanese: "Yes!"]

{Deckard and Gaff leave in spinner.}



--------------------------

(By Netrunner)

 

What is the language used by the midgets that are ripping stuff off Deckard's car? What are they saying?

They are speaking German.

Here is the complete dialogue of that scene:

[On the street... Police radio heard in background. Street vandals approach Deckard's car.]

Little thieves try to rip off a Blade Runner's carVandal: Jemand hat uns ein kleines Geschenk dagelassen. [German: "Somebody left us a little present."]

Vandal: Ist jemand drinnen? [German: "Is somebody in there?"]

Vandal: Ich kann nichts sehen. Hey, warte bis die Bullen weg sind! Hey, warte bis die Bullen weg -- [ German: "I can`t see anything. Hey, wait `til the pigs are gone! Hey, wait `til the pigs -- " Note that "bullen" actually translates to English "bulls", but this is the German slang equivalent of the Anglo/American "pigs" - that is, not just a colloquial "cops", but a rather more derogatory name for the police." Thanks to Anna K. for that explanation]

 

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