The majority of us have seen The Jungle Book or at least can hum along to ‘The Bare Necessities’. And we are super excited about the release of the new Jungle Book adaptation, so we thought we would find out how Rudyard Kipling came up with all of the animals’ names.
As the film is set in India, many of the names are based on the Hindi translation of the animal themselves. For example ‘Baloo’ is based on the Hindi word Bhãlū which means bear. Bears represented the idea of protection, courage and physical strength. The bear showed authority and was seen as a good omen and arguably Baloo is Mowgli’s main carer. Similarly, Bagheera is almost the same word as Baghirā which means black Indian leopard. This is the same with Hathi, which is the exact word for elephant in Hindi.
Kipling also used influences from Persian and Arabic, with the tiger’s name ‘Shere Khan’. The word for tiger in Persian is just ‘Shere’ which is followed by the Arabic word for lord ‘Khan’. Kipling surrounded Mowgli with animals that all represented strong and powerful companions. All of the animals that looked after Mowgli were given characteristics, which made them ideal for looking after the young boy.
Despite this, the main characte, Mowgli’s name hasn’t come from Hindi or any other Indian language. At times he is named ‘the frog’ due to his lack of ‘fur’ and inability to sit still, or ‘man cub’ by the wolves that raise him, but his name doesn’t actually translate into anything; Rudyard Kipling made it up. Kipling also stated that Mowgli is meant to be pronounced, mow-gli, with the ‘mow’ rhyming with ‘cow’.
The influence of Hindi and other Indian languages in The Jungle Book comes from Kipling’s upbringing in India. He was born there before moving to England to be educated when he was 5, and once he’d completed his education he returned to India. The book is based on the Indian jungle ‘Seonee’ (now known as seoni) however, he had never actually visited this place. Kipling actually used stories from his friends to set the scene of the jungle. Maybe his friends told him about the singing bear in the jungle…
They’re rich, famous, attractive… and guess what? These ten actors and actresses also speak more than one language. Some of them grew up in other countries before arriving in Hollywood, while others have discovered a love for languages through their work and travel.
But are they any good? Check out the videos and judge for yourself…
The Star Wars actress can speak such a variety of languages from across the globe. Born in Jerusalem, she moved to the USA aged 3 and learned Hebrew at a Jewish elementary school. She’s since studied Spanish, German, Japanese and English. This woman is exceptionally talented.
The very intelligent Jodie Foster is fluent in French and understands Italian, German and Spanish from her frequent travels around the world. Her French is so good, she’s even dubbed herself in French-language versions of her movies.
This gentleman astounds us; he can speak eight languages, and yes that is eight! He is however only fluent in four of them, which are: Spanish, English, French and Greek. We’re certainly very impressed.
Penélope Cruz could most certainly be called a polyglot, as she can speak a total of four languages fluently: Spanish, French, Italian and English. Born in Madrid, she learned French at school, and studied Italian to help her get a role in Non Ti Muovere (Don’t Move), for which she went on to win a David di Donatello award.
The Grey’s Anatomy star was born in Canada to Korean parents, and was brought up learning four languages. She is now fluent in English, Korean, Spanish and French.
Many people know that this Oscar-winning actress was born in South Africa; whilst she was there she learnt to speak fluent Afrikaans – and also Dutch, as they’re very similar languages.
As if he didn’t have enough going for him already, Bradley Cooper – a.k.a. People’s Sexiest Man Alive 2011 – is also fluent in French. I think a lot of ladies just swooned.
Mila Kunis lived in Ukraine until she was seven, and today she is still fluent in Russian. When she arrived in the USA, she didn’t speak any English, and has since described the experience of starting school as like ‘being blind and deaf at age seven’.
After an exchange programme in the Spanish town of Talavera de la Reina when she was a teenager, Gwyneth Paltrow fell in love with the country, and still visits regularly. Unsurprisingly, she is now fluent in Spanish and often speaks the language to her children.
The daughter of an American army officer and a German opera singer, Sandra Bullock lived in Germany for twelve years, often accompanying her mother on European tours. She made her first stage appearance in an opera in Nuremberg, aged 5.
Did you know that these celebrities spoke other languages? And do you know any others that are bilingual?
I don’t know about you, but here at EuroTalk we’ve been very much enjoying the BBC’s latest Sunday night drama, Poldark. Set in the late 18th century, and based on the books by Winston Graham, it’s the story of Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), who returns from the American War of Independence to find his father dead and the woman he loves engaged to his cousin. Poldark is an epic love story, with a suitably dashing hero, but it’s also a historical drama about the business and politics of the mining industry in south west England. I can’t speak for its accuracy, but it’s definitely very enjoyable…
Poldark is set on the beautiful coast of Cornwall, and with the series finale airing this weekend, we thought it was only right that we say an appropriate farewell. So whether you’ve always fancied learning a little Cornish, or, like us, you’re a fan of the lovely Ross, here’s your chance.
How did you do?
Want an opportunity to try out what you’ve learnt? Read Nat’s post on 10 reasons to visit Cornwall.
And if you haven’t had a chance to enjoy Poldark, and you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, check out the trailer.
The other day, I was watching one of my favourite films, The Lion King (yes, I know it’s a kids’ film but I love it) and I was reminded of a fun fact I read recently, that many of the characters’ names are taken from Swahili. Simba means ‘lion’, Rafiki means ‘friend’, ‘Nala’ means ‘gift’ and Pumbaa means ‘simpleton’. Poor Pumbaa.
So often when we watch a film or read a book, we take for granted that the characters are just called whatever they’re called, without considering why. So here are a few more examples – some of which may be surprising, but all of which I hope will be interesting.
The Lion King isn’t the only Disney film to give its characters significant names. In Beauty and the Beast, perhaps most obviously, the heroine’s name, Belle, means ‘beautiful’ in French. But many of the other characters resemble their names somehow, like Mrs Potts (the teapot), Cogsworth (the clock) and everyone’s favourite candelabra, Lumière, which means ‘light’.
In Sleeping Beauty, the name of the villain Maleficent comes from the Latin ‘maleficus’, meaning ‘wicked, prone to evil’. Seems appropriate. And on a similar theme, Cruella DeVille from 101 Dalmatians is pretty self-explanatory.
The Jungle Book
I think Rudyard Kipling would object to me listing this under Disney, although that might be where many people know The Jungle Book from. Shere Khan translates roughly as ‘Tiger King‘ (‘shir’ is ‘tiger’ – or ‘lion’ – in Persian, Punjabi and Hindi, while ‘khan’ is ‘king’ in many languages). ‘Bhalu’ (Baloo) means ‘bear’ in Hindi, and the ‘bagh’ in ‘Bagheera’ means ‘tiger’ – which is slightly confusing since Bagheera’s a panther.
Lord of the Rings
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, the character Frodo Baggins gets his first name from the Old English word ‘fród‘, which means ‘wise by experience’.
Game of Thrones
The character names in George R.R. Martin’s books, and the accompanying TV series, for the most part seem to be modern names with a slight twist (Robb, Jaime, Eddard), but there is one character whose name has a deeper meaning – Bran Stark, whose first name is Irish for ‘raven‘. Fans of the series will know about the three-eyed raven, who plays a significant role in Bran’s story from the start.
I’m not much of a Star Trek fan myself, but I have it on good authority that Nyota Uhura’s name means ‘Star Freedom’ in Swahili.
Many of the characters in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series have names that mean something, most often in French or Latin. Voldemort (I’m not scared to say it!) means ‘flight from death’, which is very appropriate for a character whose main goal is immortality.
Meanwhile, the Malfoys’ surname means ‘bad faith’ in French, and perhaps the best known, because his name is a spoiler in itself – Remus Lupin, whose surname comes from ‘lupus’, which is Latin for ‘wolf’. His first name is also a reference to the story of Romulus and Remus, who were raised by wolves.
Speaking of spoilers – according to George Lucas, ‘Darth’ is a variation of ‘dark’ and ‘Vader’ is Dutch for ‘father’. So I guess the Dutch probably saw the big twist coming a mile off.
The Hunger Games
We’re told that Katniss Everdeen, the main character in Suzanne Collins’ books, was named for a plant, but there’s a bit more to it than that. The katniss plant is also known as ‘arrowhead’ and comes from the genus Sagittaria. Sagittarius – the archer. Katniss is pretty good with a bow and arrow. See how we got there?
So next time you’re enjoying your favourite movie or book, have a think about the character names, because they may have been the result of hours of debate!
Has anyone got any more examples?