I love sharing fun vocabulary words with my students. I don’t have the strongest academic background to teach English, but I love me some awesome vocab words. At our last family pizza movie night, we chose to expose Spartacus and Little Miss to the wonders of Disney’s Aladdin. It has been nearly a decade since I’ve enjoyed this classic from my childhood. Like many other movies, I now see it completely differently as an adult watching with my own kids. I continue to find delight in the stunning color and writing of such tales of love and heroism, and indeed, the vocabulary. This post is dedicated to some quality diction that I never quite realized I first heard in Aladdin:
adjective: walking in a particularly arrogant manner
Jasmine: A prince like you. And every other stuffed shirt, swaggering peacock I’ve met!
Also, a fabulous metaphor; male peacocks are the ones that stand out in the wild in order to attract a mate. Aladdin thought he had to be extra wowing to attract Jasmine.
adjective: being on time
Aladdin (attempting to compliment Jasmine): Uh, Princess Jasmine? You’re very…
Genie (as a bee): Wonderful, glorious, magnificent, punctual!
Every time I hear this word, I hear it in Robin William’s voice in my head and think of this sad pick-up line.
noun: a pen name (literally French translation)
As Aladdin attempts to escape the guards in the opening number, he sings: One jump ahead of the slowpokes/One skip ahead of my doom!/Next time I’m gonna use a nom-de-plume.
Ironic that an illiterate street rat could drop French author terminology while performing elaborate parkour evading arrest.
noun: a feudal term, referring to the lord or sovereign
After hypnotizing the Sultan out of his blue diamond ring, Jafar tells him: You are most gracious, my liege. Now run along and play with your little toys!
This line would also be useful to teach my students about the importance of tone; Jafar uses a respectful word, but the tone is incredibly insolent, especially when followed by the dismissal to go be childish.
quid pro quo
noun: a favor granted in return for something else
Buried the cave after being duped by Jafar, Aladdin discovers the Genie who tries to explain the three wishes rules. Impersonating William F. Buckley (which was totally lost on all child viewers) the Genie explains: There are a few provisos, a couple of quid pro quos…rule number one: I can’t kill anybody.
This word is thrown out as a bit of legal mumbo-jumbo by the Genie; it actually seems to be used incorrectly. The Genie can’t have any returned favors for wishes; he is a slave to the lamp.
adjective: without pride or dignity; also, to the maximum degree of something
Jafar is far more literate than most in the film; after Jasmine is furious that he supposedly executed Aladdin, he offers: “My most abject and humblest apologies to you as well, princess.”
This word is actually used in its second definition later in the film, also by Jafar. After he’s taken power, he starts casting evil spells on Jasmine and crew, shouting about “Abject humiliation!”
noun: sort of like a zoo, but generally owned privately – a collection of exotic animals
This beautiful bit of diction appears TWICE: first, sung quickly by the Genie during the Prince Ali intro song (“It’s a world-class menagerie!“) but more memorably by Iago in Princess Jasmine’s voice, meant to lure Aladdin away from the lamp: “Out in the menagerie, hurry!”
noun: small group of friends or advisers; often implies exclusivity
This final gem also is snuck into the Prince Ali intro song; the Genie sings: Now try your best to stay calm/Brush up your Sunday Salaam/And come and meet his spectacular coterie!
Of course, “Sunday Salaam” is also an interesting cultural juxtaposition, combining the Christian idea of “Sunday best” with the Arabic greeting known as a “Salaam,” or full length, “As-salamu alaykum” or Peace be upon you. Disney took a LOT of liberties with this cross-cultural tale (shocking) especially compared to the original story told in 1,001 Arabian Nights (This blogger does an awesome job comparing Disney to the original story). Agrabah is allegedly based on a Middle Ages Baghdad and obviously is situated in the Middle East, although the palace looks an awful lot like the Taj Mahal and you probably won’t find too many Muslim princess dressed like Jasmine.
|Source: Bro My God|