All phonetic characters are also descended from ideogram characters. They evolved into limited number of characters mainly to simplify writing and to reduce the burden of memorizing the available characters. To cater this phonetic characters have evolved in such a way that two or more of them can be combined, usually with at least one vowel to form a syllable as a simple word, or multiple syllables then can be combined to form more complex words. Because phonetic characters have evolved in this way, it is highly flexible and adaptable by wide selection of languages that it becomes the most used characters in the world, and also because it is highly ‘compatible’ with “phonetic-compliant” languages such as English and other Romanced languages. Actually Japanese language is also phonetic-compliant but due to its close historical ties with Chinese culture and characters, they remain using their own characters (kana and kanji) even after centuries of contacts with the western powers.
I like to watch documentary shows on History TV (formerly History Channel), National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Not only they are educating and informative, they are also entertaining to me. In documentary shows it is no stranger to see people from non-English speaking world being featured. There are times those people being interviewed in their mother language. Many times I stumbled on such shows where the people speak in their own language while there are English voice-over works done to replace the spoken language instead of subtitling them. This is where the problem mostly occurred. The voice-over always tend mimic the accent of the spoken language instead of using plain, pure English, as if it is the English spoken by the same person that is being interviewed. For example, if the interviewed person is a French, the voice-over will be English with French accent or if the interviewed person is a Japanese, the voice-over will be English with Japanese accent. This irritates me so much that I wish I could club everybody in the dub studio to death using spiky baseball bat. Why can’t they just use properly pronounced English? Or perhaps they could just retain the spoken language there and use English subtitle for it? In fact that is much easier to do so than to ask an average American/British guy to speak that way or perhaps in some cases, to look for the people of the same ethnicity as the interviewed person but is able to speak English to do the voice-over job.
I think it’s an insult to the original language if the spoken language is to be replaced that way in the show. I don’t care about other people but at least that’s what I’d feel if any of the people from those documentary channels interview me in my language (Malay) but replacing my spoken language with English voice-over with Malay accent. For me, what they’re doing there is not just an insult to the language itself but also in insult to the intention of the person being interviewed, also an insult to that person him/herself. If I’m interviewed for a documentary show, I’d expect people to hear how my language sounds, even if the viewer can’t understand any bit of it. I’d want the world to know I also have my own language and I’d like to use it to tell the world that is the language spoken at my place here. So if the spoken language is to be replaced in a bad way as I have explained above, it is like to deny the rights of those people to let the world know about their language. Actually I don’t care what language it is, either it is Swahili or Cherokee, if you people of the above documentary channels somehow think it’s impossible to use subtitle, please use proper, plain English if you really need to use voice-over works that bad. Please, for once, think for the people you interviewed. They may be less civilized than you and might never watch themselves in the documentary where they’re being interviewed but please know they also have the right to let the world hear their original language. Besides what are documentaries for if not to educate the people of the world and to act as a medium in improving our understandings on each other?