So, I don’t mean to be a huge like, cultural Debbie Downer, but I think it’s time to try that hat on again. Growing up, I and everyone else I knew at my age thought this part of the movie was really funny and used to mock it (I think I might have as recently as a few months ago.) What I’m saying is that what I’m about to write applies to me as much as anyone else.
The fact is that the opening lyrics of “The Circle of Life” are lines translated into and sung in A REAL LANGUAGE, one that is spoken by over 10 million people, including 95% of South Africa. The opening of “The Circle of Life” is in Zulu, the language of the Zulu people.
"Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba [Here comes a lion, Father]
Sithi uhm ingonyama [Oh yes, it's a lion]
Nants ingonyama bagithi baba
Sithi uhhmm ingonyama
Siyo Nqoba [We're going to conquer]
Ingonyama nengw' enamabala [A lion and a leopard come to this open place]"
^^These are the actual words, along with English translation.
The Zulu people have a long and violent history of oppression by the British. Under apartheid, they were considered third-class citizens.
So what am I trying to say? I guess what I’m getting at is how problematic it is that we are taught, even as children, that it’s okay to imitate “funny-sounding” languages, without learning or being taught that it’s actually the legitimate language of, you know, REAL FUCKING PEOPLE that our (white, colonialist, hegemonic) culture thrived on oppressing. That English is the only language we really need to see as legitimate, and the rest is fit for ridicule, caricaturizing, and imitation. Or, as someone on Yahoo Answers responded to someone asking for a translation, it’s dismissed as “some crazy African yodeling.”
I would liken it to folks making “ching chong chang” noises in shitty caricatures of folks speaking in Asian languages.
Just some linguistic food for thought.
^^ applause ^^
Thank goodness someone said this. I hate seeing this making the rounds on my dash.