Argh, dialects.

I found Moggie backstage footage of the "Kings on Ice" show (part 2, 3, 4) -- she's a theater tech, it's in her blood -- and she apparently adores Evginy Plushenko, so I went nosing around about the other performers in the thing. Brian Joubert does not appear to be having any fun with that show, figure skating, or indeed life in general, but everyone else seems to be enjoying themselves.

Stéphane Lambiel looks interesting. I'm shallow, he's pretty, and his self-appointed mission in life seems to be to sit next to Johnny Weir at press conferences and distract him until I start watching for their sixth-grade teacher to come stomping up the center aisle to ask them if that note they've been passing back and forth is anything they'd like to share with the class. The gibbery fan boards were swatting around a rumor that the two of them were involved at one point, and I can honestly say I have no idea. Their main "evidence" for this is that Weir and Lambiel tend to be glued to each other whenever they're working together, but the two of them are so pawsy in general that I don't know that it means much. Weir is kind of all-over-y anyone who invites him, and Lambiel is very all-over-y anyone who lets him -- of course when they're in the same show they're going to be attached with an invisible bungee cord.

For what it's worth, Lambiel will actually "flirt" with Weir out on the ice. I've not seen him do it to other male skaters, but that may have more to do with the other skaters. It's the same big, flashy body language Weir uses when he flirts with girls -- I'm inclined to say that it happens because this is some kind of similarly "safe" relationship where they can show off for the crowd without wandering into awkward territory, but who knows. They've also been ha-ha-only-serious faffing around at pairs skating for ages. (Not allowed, sorry to say. The official rules state that pairs skating is done by a man and a lady. How boring. I'd pay good money to see the two of them in a proper duet.) Weir is pretty vehemently of the mind that you don't stay friends with your exes in one of his newspaper columns, so if it happened, it happened much later than the fangirls think, or the two of them wouldn't still be interacting like that years later.

(Zhenya is the nickname for Evginy, as in Plushenko. Who is also fairly touchy-feely with Weir and Lambiel, although not quite as 12-year-old-girl giggly. He looks like LARGE BLOND RUSSIAN BEAR next to the other skaters -- in the KoI thing above, he greets Weir with a paw to the shoulder that looks like it ought to knock the poor boy down. Large blond Russian bear, for those who care, is married with a couple of small blond Russian bear cubs. I dunno what Weir thinks of his defense of the Russian Federation lately, but he's pretty fluent in Russian, and at the very least he wouldn't have been using the affectionate diminutive if he and Plushenko weren't genuinely friends.)

Anyway, back onto the subject I intended to babble about in the first place, Lambiel is European, so a lot of the things that turn up on YouTube when you go looking are not in English. This is fine; I speak a lot of not-English, and I probably need to practice. So I wound up sitting down and watching this:

which was enlightening, but probably would have been more so if I had understood more than maybe 1% of what was coming out of her mouth. I have no idea what the old guy with the tablet is saying at all. I wondered briefly if I had had a stroke or a lobotomy I was not aware of and had forgotten everything I had ever learned in language class, until I remembered the part about Lambiel being Swiss. This is because the show in question is also Swiss, and the hostess is speaking Schweizerdeutsch, which -- and I don't care what the Swiss actually say here -- is not goddamn German. If Portuguese is separate from Spanish, than German is separate from this. These, really, since there are loads of subdialects, all jealously guarded by their home cities and/or cantons. Why everyone insists on pretending this is all still German is beyond me.

If any native German speakers are curious as to what this sounds like to non-natives: Ms. Lässer sounds rather like a nice Norwegian lady rattling off a lot of extremely rapid Dutch. Your vowels are different, you distinguish different consonants, and the cadence is weird. I start getting really iffy once I drift south of Frankfurt, but it's really not until I hit the northern cantons of Switzerland that I completely lose it and feel like I am suddenly aphasic. You eclipse the Austrians in sheer incomprehensibility. Congrats!

I can understand him fine -- Lambiel speaks Hochdeutsch, albeit with a really Swiss trilled /r/. It's so Hoch, in fact, that he must have grown up in a francophone household, because no one learns grammar that pretty on the street. When things elude him in German, he goes for English and French, which is also fine with me, because I speak those, too. She actually loses him a couple of times, which makes me feel much less stupid.