December 12, 2017
In another life I used to be a language teacher, with eyes and ears open to the pedagogic potential of seemingly uneducational material that would work in class to illustrate a point or as something basic, functional and real, well within the students’ abilities to explore.
Quiz shows are natural for this, with the repeated use of question words and tags given added spice with a multiple-choice format, making it much easier to play along at home. And so it is with this week’s Slovene on TV, which takes a look at a quiz show running on RTV and available to stream on the broadcaster’s app and website, along with Slovene subtitles if you turn on the closed captions (CC). It’s not the most entertaining show online, but it does have some value if you can speak enough Slovene to engage with folk at family gatherings, but not enough to read Delo.
Kdo Bi Vedel, Zabavni Kviz (Who would know, entertaining quiz) has the familiar format of two celebrity captains, each paired with another celebrity, engaging in low level banter and milking each round for all it’s worth, dragging out the running time to 1 hour and 13 minutes, discussing each of the three options in agonising detail. It’s extremely slow and very repetitive, and thus ideal for our purposes here.
The episode in question can be streamed at the RTV site, and was part of a charity appeal weekend that occasionally cuts into the action with maudlin music, tales of suffering and ways to donate. Then back to the entertaining quiz. The host is a man called Saša Jerković, the team captains are Ana Maria Mitić and Miha Brajnik, the former of which you’ll recognize from billboards and commercials, if not from TV and stage. They’re joined by the actor Janez Hočevar Rifle and Helena Blagne, who seems to be a very popular singer.
Sebek means selfie
The first couple of minutes introduce the guests, and then at about 02:40 the host, Saša Jerković, makes his first charity pitch, and it was during this, unexpected part. that I first noticed the show wasn’t 30 minutes long, but 73. The quiz proper starts at 06:20, with a Jeopardy-style grid offering various themes for the teams to choose. This naturally leaves to much discussion as to which topic to select.
Miha and Helena choose figs, and get the following question at 07:30.
It felt good to get this right, even if only because I know what osa means
These sequences have rich linguistic input, as the contestants go back and forth, analysing each option, weighing the pros and cons, and filling the airtime like consummate professionals. While this provides a lot good, basic content for the learner, the subtitles can be rather difficult to read the way they’re superimposed over the possible answers.
Simple, authentic dialogues are a feature of the show
After more than two minutes of careful deliberation, Miha and Helena choose option A, the correct one, and after the host confirms this we go straight into a short, filmed sequence explaining the answer. In this case, showing how the lifecycles of figs and wasps intersect, from 10:25 on. These parts of the show, which mostly shift between short, semi-educational films and scripted skits, are a nice end to the themed vocabulary of each round, and a welcome break from the monotony of the studio.
You will never look at a fig in the same way again
Overall, Kdo Bi Vedel is not a very entertaining show, and it’s not something I’d watch if I understood everything, but at my stage in learning Slovene it provides some interesting and useful exposure, with a lot of opportunities to pause the video and note things down or look them up, with those words reused again and again.
If you’re just getting started with subtitles and Slovene, and want to start with English audio and Slovene subs, or vice versa, then read the first post in the series here.
Light banter makes this easy to follow.