Extr@ Episode 9: Jobs for the Boys

If you need to learn another language for your job, you know that a general course isn’t enough. You don’t want to spend your time practicing how to order food or memorizing words for weather. Instead, you want to focus on very specific settings and very technical vocabulary. This is why Episode 4, “Sam Looks for a Job”, taught us only how to be restaurant servers. (Watch it again here) But today, in Episode 9, we see Sascha, Sam, and Nic all dealing with different jobs. See it now in German, French, Spanish, or English, so you can join today’s discussion!

“Sascha arbeitet jetzt als Assistentin . . .”

I admit that the three jobs are not wildly different. Nic is an actor, Sam hopes to be a news reporter, and Sascha meets celebrities as a TV researcher — so they all have showbiz in common. But this episode does not teach you how to do their jobs, but how not to do them! Remember that Extr@ is 50% sitcom!

Besides, it takes more than twenty-five minutes to prepare for work in another langauge. Several years ago, when I was an English trainer to a French receptionist, I spent an hour role-playing different ways to greet clients, learn what they wanted, and direct them to the right offices. It was a little boring for me, but obviously very interesting for her. That was just one lesson out of the twenty hours she paid for.

These days, I also see things from a learner’s end. Many people have been encouraging me to take a certification exam and to find a job that will let me use German. And it is very hard to convince them that just because my German is good enough for watching romantic movies, that doesn’t mean it’s good enough for answering customer service calls!

“Wir kriegen CNN doch über Satellit oder nicht?”

Since Sascha is trying to interest Sam in the TV industry, we also get a throwback to Episode 5’s TV-theme. (Watch it again) But I think Episode 9 has the better vocabulary list: nouns like “der Kanal” and “die Fernbedienung,” and verbs like “kriegen” and “berichten.” Sam also mentions many newsworthy events

I’m equally impressed by the rest of the script. It puts simple verbs that we learned as beginners into a professional context. In A1 class, you “treffen” friends, “bekommen” gifts, and “zeigen” your work on the whiteboard. Here, we “treffen” clients, “bekommen” e-mails, and “zeigen” someone how to do a job.

“Hello, Schnuckiputzi!”

Meanwhile, Sam and Anna’s romance continues to develop. And they teach us some really embarrassing words to call someone you love. “Schnuckiputzi” comes from the adjectives “schnucklig” and “putzig,” which both mean “cute.” My own favorite, which I heard on another show, is “Kuschelwuschel” — which comes from the verbs “kuscheln” (to cuddle) and “wuscheln(to tousle). I’d only call a child that, though!

Speaking of children . . . My grandmother would laugh at Spanish Ana calling Sam “pichonito” (little male pigeon) — because her own nickname as a child was “pichona”! I wonder if her trained ears would also hear Sam calling Ana “cariñito” rather than “cariñita.” But while I hear nothing silly in the Spanish words, perhaps a native speaker finds them as ridiculous as I find “sugar plum” and “snuggly puppy” from the English version!

Yet the award for Most Embarrassing goes to the French. Nothing beats “sucre d’amour” (sugar of love)!

Let’s talk about our jobs!

  1. Have you ever needed to learn another language for work?
  2. What are the three most useful words or phrases for someone with your job?
  3. What is the most embarrassing term of endearment that you know?

Next Week: Episode 10, “Anna’s Protest”

Extra deutsch

Extra en français

Extra en español

Extra English

4 thoughts on “Extr@ Episode 9: Jobs for the Boys

  1. This was indeed a pretty rich episode — I particularly like Nico/Pablo’s summary of Hamlet — I think summarizing stories is a too-often-neglected language exercise. It works as story, too, although it is a bit baffling that Sacha/Lola thinks Sam’s language skills are up to a job in which you can’t have a thick accent. But then, as with the waiter episode, the girls never seem to be quite thinking about that.

    There were some interesting differences between the Spanish and the French — in the Spanish, Lola comes in at the beginning to catch Pablo, with Ana entering later, while in the French, Annie comes in first (which I think works better structurally); and then, in the French later, Nico has difficulty remembering ‘To be or not to be’, while Pablo doesn’t.

    The boss names are quite funny, so I looked them up in all of them — Lucrecia in Spanish, Barbarella in French and German, Eunice Mountain in English. (Leading me to ask the question, ‘Does ‘Eunice’ sound formidable in British English?’)

    1. Cristina @Linguavert

      I confess that this was one time I didn’t watch all four versions the whole way through! Except for Extra deutsch, I just skipped to the parts with the pet names.

      One big difference between the Extr@ English and all the others is that Bridget’s new boss turns out to be the landlady’s cousin from Episode 8! So she gets to keep her old-fashioned name rather than have a formidable one. It would have been nice to know the English “translation” of Barbarella/Lucrecia, though! Before I found out about Eunice, my bet that she would also be a Barbarella. Would you know, Brandon, why the Spanish version went with Lucrezia?

      That’s a good point about summarizing stories. I don’t think I had to do it in any of my foreign language classes. But I do see what a rich exercise it would be, given the right story.

      1. I knew that the name ‘Eunice Mountain’ seemed a bit familiar — that would make another significant difference in the story among the different versions.

        I don’t know why they went with Lucrecia; I’m assuming that the allusion is to Lucrezia Borgia, thus a villainess name, but the real question is why not just go with Barbarella (or some version thereof). But the French and German names often seem to stick closer to each other than the Spanish ones do: Sacha/Sascha vs Lola, Nico/Nic vs. Pablo, and now Barbarella vs. Lucrecia — if the French and German names are different, the Spanish name will also be different; but so far if the Spanish is different from either the French or the German, it will also be different from the other. In this episode it even extends to casual mentions: in the beginning with Sacha/Sascha/Lola says she had a conversation with an agent, in French and German it is Kylie Minogue’s agent, and in Spanish it is Enrique Iglesias’s.

        1. Cristina @Linguavert

          Well spotted! My original hunch was that the actor who plays Pablo improvised most of what makes Extra en español different from the others, but the changes obviously go deeper than that level of creativity. It would be nice to go “behind the scenes” and learn the reasons for them!

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