Extr@ Episode 7: The Twin

In this episode, we hear Sam, Anna and Nic using adverbs of time to talk about Sascha’s confusing behavior in the past and the present. First, she does one thing; later, she contradicts herself. An hour ago she was different from how she is now. What the friends don’t know is that they are dealing not just with Sascha, but also with her identical Zwillingsschwester Maria. It’s a classic comedic set-up!

If you didn’t watch Episode 7 last week, here’s your chance to see it today in German, French, Spanish, and English.

“Sie wissen, das ich eine Schwester habe, aber . . .”

This story isn’t really a mystery, so I should stop feeling disappointed that it doesn’t clear the high bar set by the previous episode. But I still wish Maria had created a little more trouble for Sascha and the cast! At least she helps Sam and Anna to set a movie date, which I hope we will see in a later episode.

It’s not much of a story, but as a language lesson, it’s pretty good. An A1-level learner who is working on the Perfekt tense could watch this with subtitles on, for a focused listening exercise. It repeats this grammar point over and over!

This twist in the Extr@ series reminds me of one of my favorite theories of language learning: That you develop a parallel personality in another language. That is, the better you become, the less you merely translate your old culture and background into the new. Instead, you acquire a second culture and background. (Source) I sometimes think of it as discovering a long-lost identical twin who grew up in another culture.

“Wo tut es ihnen weh?”

As before, Nic provides a funny subplot and an intensive “sub lesson.” There is also some roleplay for rehearsal, though instead of Nic helping Sam practice a script, it is the other way around. Nic seems to have landed a real acting role and he wants Sam to help him get into character. And if you have ever practiced visiting the doctor in language class, then the vocabulary from this scene will be familiar to you!

I think most language courses pair up body parts and expressions of pain. At least this has been the case for me with French, German and Italian. (But this may also be an effect of the standardization of language teaching in the EU.)

“Was? ‘Die fünf reichsten Familien in Amerika’!”

Sam has a different sort of long-lost identical twin. The longer he lets his friends think he is a regular middle-class guy, the more he discovers what he would be like if his parents had been middle class. Every day, he fits into this “twin” role more easily.

For me, the most exciting part of Episode 7 was the end, when Sascha discovers Sam’s secret. I can’t wait to learn what happens later!

Extra Extr@

The biggest difference between the four Extr@ series is the name of the Zwillingesschwester Maria. The French sœur jumelle is Christelle, the Spanish hermana gemela is Cristina, and the English identical twin sister is Chrissy. All the other names have a common root, so I wonder why Maria broke the pattern. (My guess is that the German form of Cristina is just really uncommon.)

On a related note, of all the actresses, I think Leontine Hass of Extra deutsch played the twin sisters best. I was so impressed, I later looked up other projects of hers . . . and learned that she is actually British! Granted, with a Familienname like Hass, she probably has a German father. But would German viewers see something a little “off” about her, the way American viewers might see Sam? If so, I may watch Extra deutsch again in a few years and hear it, too!

Interestingly, it is only in the Spanish and English versions that Sam/Hector makes one of his typical vocabulary mistakes. And it is the same mistake in both: He says “brazo” or arm when he means “pierna” or leg. Most likely it is because Javier Marzan was in both of them, and remembered the English script well enough to suggest a change to the Spanish one later on. But this was a lost opportunity for the French version to sneak in one of my former teachers’ favorite classic mistakes: saying “jambon” (ham) when you mean your “jambe” (leg)!

Let’s talk!

  1. What do you know about your long-lost identical twin in your other language?
  2. If you had a real identical twin, what trouble could he or she cause with your friends?
  3. What exercise did you use to memorize the words for body parts?

Next Week: Episode 8, The Landlady’s Cousin

Extra Deutsch

Extra en français

Extra en español

Extra English

4 thoughts on “Extr@ Episode 7: The Twin

  1. On first watch, this one had mostly seemed a weakly sitcommy episode to me, with just a long series of jokes; I had missed the fact that time played such a big role in the episode until you mentioned it. But it’s certainly true — not only is it rich with adverbs of time, but for the same reason, it is a bit more adventuresome with ways of expressing tenses. It improves a bit on second watch, I think; one notices more of what’s going on language-wise, and one sees significant progress for the story arc, and, in the Spanish, at least, Pablo’s usual improv touches of comedy are fairly funny. It’s still not as neatly done as the previous, and the twin gimmick, as you say, isn’t really used to full potential, but it does some genuine work.

    1. Cristina @Linguavert

      It is a weak episode. I had to watch it twice to see its particular grammar focus, and even then, I was looking to confirm a hypothesis. If someone were acting strangely, I asked myself, what grammar would you most need to know to be able to explain that to someone else?

      On the bright side, this was the episode that made me a true Leontine Hass fan! That has to count for something, right?

      1. I spent some time watching the German version of this episode, and I agree that Hass’s Sascha and Maria worked best — the difference was both the most dramatic and the most plausible, in the sense that if you met Sascha or Maria in real life, you’d probably assume that was her real personality. Maria was also, I think, the most likable version of the twin sister.

        It was interesting seeing the other characters in a different form as well. I confess I wasn’t impressed by Anna — she came across, at least in this episode, as very bland. (Cordillot’s Annie is easily the best version of that character; one can see immediately why Sam would like her.)

        1. Cristina @Linguavert

          My own favorite of the four Annas is the Spanish Ana! At first I was horrifed when she showed up in the fourth episode with shorter hair, but she wears it so well!

          You’re right that Leontine Hass really sells whatever character she is playing. I really did think Sascha was very close to her own personality . . . and then Maria showed up and made me wonder. Then, as I said, I found more clips of her on YouTube, speaking as herself, and she turned out to be very different from both her Extr@ characters!

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