Friday night Brad and Red Boxed Blitz, a barely mediocre cop movie with Jason Statham (yummity yum) at the helm. We understood about 82% of the dialogue, and only that much b/c of context clues, interpreting for one another, and continual rewinding.
Blitz, as I did not know until after we'd made our movie selection (the choices were slim regardless), is a British movie - meaning sexy Statham was not the only one speaking only-sort-of-discernable English. Everyone was speaking that variety, and further, they were doing so in the like 18 accents that somehow manage to exist in a country that's about 2/3 the size of California.
What is it about the way Brits speak that makes it so darn incomprehensible? Are American English and our accents this incomprehensible to the Brits? To the rest of the English speaking world? Goodness. I could barely follow the story. One highlight was Brad informing Mr. Statham, "The word is chips, not crisps." My response? "Wait - he was talking about potato chips?" Something (many things) was clearly lost in translation.
We had a not dissimilar experience watching Luther this summer. Luther, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is a fabulous British mini-series starring Idis fricking Elba, formerly of The Wire fame (oh, Stringer Bell). First of all, I had no idea he was British till I saw that show. Second of all, I love how the Brit cops say "Gov" when they're talking to the lieutenant. Third of all, we loved the show but only understood about 85-87% of what was being said during any episode.
And it's not just media. I mean, when Brad and I first rode the metro upon our arrival to London in summer '08, three soccer players had a conversation next to us in a language that was both certainly my own and certainly not. I think I understood a sum total of 16 words in about 10 minutes. And I don't think we heard that same version of the language one more time over 3 days in the city.
All this puts me in mind of a completely delightful, totally-worth-watching SNL clip, "Don' You Go Rounin' Roun to Re Ro" - http://vimeo.com/19972082.
It's a favorite of mine and Brad's, and it never fails to crack us up completely. Shannon was thoroughly amused when we showed her this summer, and I assure you, if you've ever found yourself watching a British movie/show and asking, "What the heck did he just say? What's happening?" you won't be disappointed.