Hazardous Effects of Dubbing

Ok, maybe not hazardous, but the effects sure are annoying. France dubs almost all foreign TV shows and movies into French instead of leaving the original spoken language and adding subtitles. I absolutely hate it because the lips don’t match the words, the voices don’t match the actors, and it’s really distracting when the French voice of Gibbs is also the voice of Bones’ dad! (Are there really not enough voice actors in France for all the shows?)

It is much, much cheaper to subtitle than to dub, it helps people learn foreign languages, and it keeps the original work closer to its intended form. So why do countries insist on spending extra money on dubbing? To create a few more voice acting jobs? Because the general population doesn’t like to read? I would really like to know the reasons because it makes no sense to me.

The last time I went to the movies, five out of six of them were American and dubbed into French. It got me thinking about growing up in a country where most of the entertainment is from a different country (usually America), and having to watch everything dubbed. Would it annoy me? Would I just get used to it? I have never watched a foreign movie dubbed into English so I don’t know what it’s like to hear your native language, but know that everything about the movie is completely foreign and different. What do the French think about American high school movies? Don’t they find it weird when the characters talk about things that don’t even exist in France, like cheerleaders or Prom? I know these words translate into French (pom-pom girl and bal de la fin de l’année) but do the French really know what they are? Or why they’re so prevalent in American culture and entertainment?

Another thing I don’t understand is when people say that a certain actor is their favorite actor ever, and yet they have never heard his real voice. The voice is so important!! Even the body language can’t be conveyed or interpreted the same since that’s highly dependent on culture. Are they simply referring to his physical look or perhaps to the French voice? (A lot of the really famous American actors have the same French voice actor for all of their movies so they can be more recognizable.)

Of course, the main reason I prefer subtitles is for their effect on listening comprehension in other languages. Scandinavian and Dutch learners of English always outperform French, German, Spanish and Italian learners of English. Hmm, I wonder why? Last year only about 5-10% of my students said they ever watched movies in English, and it certainly showed in their listening and speaking abilities.

Countries in red do dubbing, those in blue do subtitles (with some dubbing for childrens’ programs).

I know I’m a bit biased being a language teacher/linguist who highly values listening comprehension in order to learn proper pronunciation and who views audio-visual input such as television and films as major language learning tools that everyone should utilize. Unfortunately, I also know there are some people out there who don’t actually want to/refuse to learn another language or culture.  I’d like to think even if I weren’t so passionate about foreign languages, I would still prefer subtitles to dubbing for the simple reason that it doesn’t destroy the authenticity. It’s just a few words at the bottom of the screen.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    Well, let’s start by saying that I fully agree with you, and I personally think that dubbing should be banned, plain and simple.
    And yes, watching a film in its original language, on top of meaning you’re really appreciating the film for what it is a a great tool for learning a foreign language. And by the way, your map is interesting and incidentally I suspects it matches the map of countries where a big chunk of the population is fluent in English.

    Why are films dubbed in France? No idea. Mostly because the powers that be don’t always think things through. (to make it short) Nowadays it’s also a sign of “anglophobia” and idiotic “protection of French” in France (cf Loi Toubon).

    One thing that must be underlined with dubbing, and I think this is why it’s also so widespread in France, it’s that originally dubbing was done by confirmed and famous actors (most of the same stage actors though, but the best ones) and when you watch old movies dubbed, the dubbing is not always that bothersome.
    Things changed in 1994 when a new law passed (I don’t exactly know the details) and regular actors stopped dubbing films and it became a bunch of unknown, sometimes failed actors that couldn’t find any other job. Since that date dubbed movies are pretty much unwatchable (and TV shows are worse, dubbers simply can’t act)…

    Why do countries insist on dubbing? It’s a commercial thing, some distributors are convinced that people won’t go see their film if it’s not in French (it’s the same rationale in the US, except that in the US, they simply decide to not show movies that are not in English except a few lucky ones).

    And by the way, I saw one French movie dubbed in English in the US (I rented it (it was still the age of VHS) and hadn’t paid attention to that), it was Les Rivières Pourpres and it was pretty much unwatchable (but I suspect it was not much more watchable in French actually).

    “What do the French think about American high school movies? Don’t they find it weird when the characters talk about things that don’t even exist in France, like cheerleaders or Prom?”

    Well, here it’s not a language issue anymore but a cultural one. And French people -for the most part- understand that it’s about things that don’t exist in France. Some they more or less can imagine (proms) some much less (cheerleaders, commencement ceremonies) but no, they don’t understand why they’re so prevalent.
    Even myself, after having spent so much time in the US (but I have never set foot in an American high school) I know they are prevalent, I still don’t understand why (and most likely never will, but it’s ok, I can live with that).

    “Another thing I don’t understand is when people say that a certain actor is their favorite actor ever, and yet they have never heard his real voice.”

    It’s because they’re hot!!! (and/or they are in a movie they like) But indeed, they have no idea of the actual acting skills of the actor. I understood why Johnny Depp was such a good actor once I could hear him speak in English, on the other hand, Bruce Willis is a much better actor in French as he’s lucky enough to have a great actor that voices him (at least who did in the 80’s-90’s I don’t know about now).
    .-= David´s last blog ..Socialist America, part 2 =-.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    Well, let’s start by saying that I fully agree with you, and I personally think that dubbing should be banned, plain and simple.
    And yes, watching a film in its original language, on top of meaning you’re really appreciating the film for what it is a a great tool for learning a foreign language. And by the way, your map is interesting and incidentally I suspects it matches the map of countries where a big chunk of the population is fluent in English.

    Why are films dubbed in France? No idea. Mostly because the powers that be don’t always think things through. (to make it short) Nowadays it’s also a sign of “anglophobia” and idiotic “protection of French” in France (cf Loi Toubon).

    One thing that must be underlined with dubbing, and I think this is why it’s also so widespread in France, it’s that originally dubbing was done by confirmed and famous actors (most of the same stage actors though, but the best ones) and when you watch old movies dubbed, the dubbing is not always that bothersome.
    Things changed in 1994 when a new law passed (I don’t exactly know the details) and regular actors stopped dubbing films and it became a bunch of unknown, sometimes failed actors that couldn’t find any other job. Since that date dubbed movies are pretty much unwatchable (and TV shows are worse, dubbers simply can’t act)…

    Why do countries insist on dubbing? It’s a commercial thing, some distributors are convinced that people won’t go see their film if it’s not in French (it’s the same rationale in the US, except that in the US, they simply decide to not show movies that are not in English except a few lucky ones).

    And by the way, I saw one French movie dubbed in English in the US (I rented it (it was still the age of VHS) and hadn’t paid attention to that), it was Les Rivières Pourpres and it was pretty much unwatchable (but I suspect it was not much more watchable in French actually).

    “What do the French think about American high school movies? Don’t they find it weird when the characters talk about things that don’t even exist in France, like cheerleaders or Prom?”

    Well, here it’s not a language issue anymore but a cultural one. And French people -for the most part- understand that it’s about things that don’t exist in France. Some they more or less can imagine (proms) some much less (cheerleaders, commencement ceremonies) but no, they don’t understand why they’re so prevalent.
    Even myself, after having spent so much time in the US (but I have never set foot in an American high school) I know they are prevalent, I still don’t understand why (and most likely never will, but it’s ok, I can live with that).

    “Another thing I don’t understand is when people say that a certain actor is their favorite actor ever, and yet they have never heard his real voice.”

    It’s because they’re hot!!! (and/or they are in a movie they like) But indeed, they have no idea of the actual acting skills of the actor. I understood why Johnny Depp was such a good actor once I could hear him speak in English, on the other hand, Bruce Willis is a much better actor in French as he’s lucky enough to have a great actor that voices him (at least who did in the 80’s-90’s I don’t know about now).
    .-= David´s last blog ..Socialist America, part 2 =-.

  • Melissa

    i completely agree with you! i absolutely ABHOR every film/tv show/etc that has been subjected to dubbing. i’d much rather watch it in v.o. in college, we had an assignment to watch a movie in french and then compare the dialogue from one scene in french and english. i chose “its a wonderful life” and it took me days to finish because i couldn’t get over jimmy stewart’s french counterpart. awful.

  • Melissa

    i completely agree with you! i absolutely ABHOR every film/tv show/etc that has been subjected to dubbing. i’d much rather watch it in v.o. in college, we had an assignment to watch a movie in french and then compare the dialogue from one scene in french and english. i chose “its a wonderful life” and it took me days to finish because i couldn’t get over jimmy stewart’s french counterpart. awful.

  • http://boeingbleudemer.blogspot.com/ Cynthia

    Umm, I do not know what to think about this particular issue.

    I come from Quebec as you know and every single movie has to be dubbed to be presented in theaters legally. They even extended that to video games recently.

    In the particular case of Quebec, people were simply fed up of everything not being in the language most of them spoke. So that’s why dubbing became mandatory.

    After all, Tv and movies are for entertainment and I do not think most people find reading subtitles as relaxing. I mean, I’ve never seen a foreign language movie in a normal American theatre.

    On the other hand, French people are horrible at translating or dubbing so their dubbing are usually atrocious. It particularly shows because they only show American series.

    But the French are very sensitive to other languages or even accents. They even dub French-Canadian Tv Shows !

    But now, I don’t really care with my Freebox, I can watch all the American shows in English :)
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..La Traversée de la ville =-.

  • http://boeingbleudemer.blogspot.com/ Cynthia

    Umm, I do not know what to think about this particular issue.

    I come from Quebec as you know and every single movie has to be dubbed to be presented in theaters legally. They even extended that to video games recently.

    In the particular case of Quebec, people were simply fed up of everything not being in the language most of them spoke. So that’s why dubbing became mandatory.

    After all, Tv and movies are for entertainment and I do not think most people find reading subtitles as relaxing. I mean, I’ve never seen a foreign language movie in a normal American theatre.

    On the other hand, French people are horrible at translating or dubbing so their dubbing are usually atrocious. It particularly shows because they only show American series.

    But the French are very sensitive to other languages or even accents. They even dub French-Canadian Tv Shows !

    But now, I don’t really care with my Freebox, I can watch all the American shows in English :)
    .-= Cynthia´s last blog ..La Traversée de la ville =-.

  • http://blondeinfrance.blogspot.com/ Andromeda

    I think movies are starting to be dubbed better now with big actors, at least for kids. I saw Ice Age 3 and Up and I was pretty happy with the voices, they were funny and matched the characters well. And I remember seeing that Danny Boon did the voice in one of the big cartoons a year or two ago.

    But in series it’s just awful, especially Friends and Charmed. I bet it’s just a deal with French DVD makers so everyone is forced to buy it to see it in English!!
    .-= Andromeda´s last blog ..Busy baby =-.

  • http://blondeinfrance.blogspot.com Andromeda

    I think movies are starting to be dubbed better now with big actors, at least for kids. I saw Ice Age 3 and Up and I was pretty happy with the voices, they were funny and matched the characters well. And I remember seeing that Danny Boon did the voice in one of the big cartoons a year or two ago.

    But in series it’s just awful, especially Friends and Charmed. I bet it’s just a deal with French DVD makers so everyone is forced to buy it to see it in English!!
    .-= Andromeda´s last blog ..Busy baby =-.

  • Geordie2004

    I completely agree with you, dubbing sucks. Also, good work on researching those stats about language learning and dubbing. Very interesting.

    On a slight sidenote, it’s interesting that so many of the American films you watch are dubbed, you make it sound like there’s no other option where you live. When I lived in France (in Nantes), there was an independent cinema called the Katorza (http://www.katorza.fr/) which specialised in foreign films. It always showed films in their original language with French subtitles. Are there no cinemas like that near you? I ask because I have no idea how common cinemas like that are in France, but it would be a real shame if there aren’t a lot of them.

  • Geordie2004

    I completely agree with you, dubbing sucks. Also, good work on researching those stats about language learning and dubbing. Very interesting.

    On a slight sidenote, it’s interesting that so many of the American films you watch are dubbed, you make it sound like there’s no other option where you live. When I lived in France (in Nantes), there was an independent cinema called the Katorza (http://www.katorza.fr/) which specialised in foreign films. It always showed films in their original language with French subtitles. Are there no cinemas like that near you? I ask because I have no idea how common cinemas like that are in France, but it would be a real shame if there aren’t a lot of them.

  • http://pandainparis.wordpress.com/ Amanda

    I’ve seen the Fifth Element dubbed in French and Bruce Willis’ voice was nearly as high as Chris Tucker’s.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Pitter pattering =-.

  • http://pandainparis.wordpress.com Amanda

    I’ve seen the Fifth Element dubbed in French and Bruce Willis’ voice was nearly as high as Chris Tucker’s.
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Pitter pattering =-.

  • http://frenchtoastpainperdu.blogspot.com/ Gem

    At first, the dubbing really bothered me. I always watched subtitled movies in the theaters and we would rent DVDs and change the language to English. But once I got good enough at French, I learned so much vocabulary from the dubbed shows! In fact, when one of the CSI: Miami actors came to France and went on a TV show, I was shocked and annoyed at her American voice. She was much better in French.

    I think I may be in the minority, but dubbed shows didn’t bother me at all after about 6 months and I think watching them improved my listening comprehension by leaps and bounds. Of course, I’m going at it from the other direction – my French students didn’t learn anything new from dubbed American shows.

    On the topic of seeing a different culture with the same language, I don’t think that it bothers the audience at all. I like to watch old Kung Fu movies which are terribly dubbed into English, for example, and I’m never “confused” as to what language/culture is coming across. The problem may be creating stereotypes… one of my Spanish friends once asked me, “Do all funerals in America happen outside?” All of the American movies she’d watched had outdoor graveside memorial services.
    .-= Gem´s last blog ..Last Weekend =-.

  • http://frenchtoastpainperdu.blogspot.com Gem

    At first, the dubbing really bothered me. I always watched subtitled movies in the theaters and we would rent DVDs and change the language to English. But once I got good enough at French, I learned so much vocabulary from the dubbed shows! In fact, when one of the CSI: Miami actors came to France and went on a TV show, I was shocked and annoyed at her American voice. She was much better in French.

    I think I may be in the minority, but dubbed shows didn’t bother me at all after about 6 months and I think watching them improved my listening comprehension by leaps and bounds. Of course, I’m going at it from the other direction – my French students didn’t learn anything new from dubbed American shows.

    On the topic of seeing a different culture with the same language, I don’t think that it bothers the audience at all. I like to watch old Kung Fu movies which are terribly dubbed into English, for example, and I’m never “confused” as to what language/culture is coming across. The problem may be creating stereotypes… one of my Spanish friends once asked me, “Do all funerals in America happen outside?” All of the American movies she’d watched had outdoor graveside memorial services.
    .-= Gem´s last blog ..Last Weekend =-.

  • http://anastasiatravels.blogspot.com/ Anastasia

    When I talked to former-French-coworker about this, he said that French people liked dubbing because they found the real voices of American actors (using Bruce Willis as a specific example) too effeminate. Which I thought was hilarious.
    .-= Anastasia´s last blog ..french (in action!), happy birthday to me. =-.

  • http://anastasiatravels.blogspot.com Anastasia

    When I talked to former-French-coworker about this, he said that French people liked dubbing because they found the real voices of American actors (using Bruce Willis as a specific example) too effeminate. Which I thought was hilarious.
    .-= Anastasia´s last blog ..french (in action!), happy birthday to me. =-.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com/ Zhu

    I used to watch everything dubbed in France because well, we don’t have the choice. There are a lot of things we miss because they are cultural. I remember in one of the Friends episode, there is a joke about ESPN – I didn’t have a clue of what is was! Same for cheesecakes, Superball etc.

    I can’t stand dubbed movies anymore after hearing them in English (or whatever language). Looking back, E.R in French sounds very odd.
    .-= Zhu´s last blog ..Montréal’s Jean Talon Market =-.

  • http://www.correresmidestino.com Zhu

    I used to watch everything dubbed in France because well, we don’t have the choice. There are a lot of things we miss because they are cultural. I remember in one of the Friends episode, there is a joke about ESPN – I didn’t have a clue of what is was! Same for cheesecakes, Superball etc.

    I can’t stand dubbed movies anymore after hearing them in English (or whatever language). Looking back, E.R in French sounds very odd.
    .-= Zhu´s last blog ..Montréal’s Jean Talon Market =-.

  • http://www.soyezlabienvenuechezmoi.blogspot.com/ Dedene

    I’ve tried to explain this to my DH many times over the years. You cannot watch a John Wayne movie and not hear his voice!
    But then, it’s like the first time I saw Jean Gabin and he was dubbed into English. Just doesn’t do it!
    .-= Dedene´s last blog ..New Toys! =-.

  • http://www.soyezlabienvenuechezmoi.blogspot.com Dedene

    I’ve tried to explain this to my DH many times over the years. You cannot watch a John Wayne movie and not hear his voice!
    But then, it’s like the first time I saw Jean Gabin and he was dubbed into English. Just doesn’t do it!
    .-= Dedene´s last blog ..New Toys! =-.

  • http://www.edgeoftheforest.wordpress.com/ Andrea

    Oh I completely agree!
    One of the most disappointing things I discovered when I moved here to France was that almost nothing was subtitled. This basically means I haven’t seen a movie in 9 months.

    It’s particularly disappointing to me because when I lived in Argentina, all the movies were in English and subtitled in Spanish, and my Spanish improved SO MUCh by watching them. That’s probably because I’m more of a visual language learner, but, still, it was great.

    As for movies with subtitles not being “relaxing” – I don’t really buy it. When I lived in Arizona we had a major movie theater with a lot of foreign movies and no one seemed to mind reading the subtitles. There was also a cinema that showed Bollywood movies, obviously with English subtitles, and I didn’t find that it took anything away from my enjoyment of the movies (unless the subtitles were really terrible, but that’s another issue altogether!)
    .-= Andrea´s last blog ..I propose to you… =-.

  • http://www.edgeoftheforest.wordpress.com Andrea

    Oh I completely agree!
    One of the most disappointing things I discovered when I moved here to France was that almost nothing was subtitled. This basically means I haven’t seen a movie in 9 months.

    It’s particularly disappointing to me because when I lived in Argentina, all the movies were in English and subtitled in Spanish, and my Spanish improved SO MUCh by watching them. That’s probably because I’m more of a visual language learner, but, still, it was great.

    As for movies with subtitles not being “relaxing” – I don’t really buy it. When I lived in Arizona we had a major movie theater with a lot of foreign movies and no one seemed to mind reading the subtitles. There was also a cinema that showed Bollywood movies, obviously with English subtitles, and I didn’t find that it took anything away from my enjoyment of the movies (unless the subtitles were really terrible, but that’s another issue altogether!)
    .-= Andrea´s last blog ..I propose to you… =-.

  • http://emmygration.blogspot.com/ Emmy

    I have mixed feelings about this. I used to absolute hate dubbing in France. Once I asked from the kitchen who was on the tele and my boyfriend shouted ‘it’s obvious from the voice…’ Yea, obvious for him, it was the french eddy murphy. I only know the real eddy murphy voice. I still hate it when someone says ‘I like Tom hanks as an actor’ when they’ve never heard his real voice and how he acts a role.

    But, I can totally understand how you get used to dubbing. I can easily watch american series in French that I have never watched in English…I don’t know how these actors sound in English after all. In a country that forces its viewers to watch the dubbed versions, it’s normal that the French ‘prefer’ it. They’re used to it.

    I am happy though that you can now get the VO versions of series on french cable tv. It’s important to have the choice.
    .-= Emmy´s last blog ..Another one bites the dust =-.

  • http://emmygration.blogspot.com Emmy

    I have mixed feelings about this. I used to absolute hate dubbing in France. Once I asked from the kitchen who was on the tele and my boyfriend shouted ‘it’s obvious from the voice…’ Yea, obvious for him, it was the french eddy murphy. I only know the real eddy murphy voice. I still hate it when someone says ‘I like Tom hanks as an actor’ when they’ve never heard his real voice and how he acts a role.

    But, I can totally understand how you get used to dubbing. I can easily watch american series in French that I have never watched in English…I don’t know how these actors sound in English after all. In a country that forces its viewers to watch the dubbed versions, it’s normal that the French ‘prefer’ it. They’re used to it.

    I am happy though that you can now get the VO versions of series on french cable tv. It’s important to have the choice.
    .-= Emmy´s last blog ..Another one bites the dust =-.

  • http://cndrnh.blogspot.com/ CN Heidelberg

    I suspect dubbing is easier for people who want to just watch what is happening on the screen and not be distracted by having to read the dialogue. There’s an element of language protection in there, too.

    I really hate it – three years in Germany and I still can’t stand the sound of a dubbed show. The dubbing is usually very obvious – the voices sound like they are sitting around a studio and not engaged in the scene that is taking place. Scenes with screaming/crying are especially poorly done and unbearable. Movies are usually better done, but it still feels like a disservice.
    .-= CN Heidelberg´s last blog ..Nine, nein, oh nein =-.

  • http://cndrnh.blogspot.com CN Heidelberg

    I suspect dubbing is easier for people who want to just watch what is happening on the screen and not be distracted by having to read the dialogue. There’s an element of language protection in there, too.

    I really hate it – three years in Germany and I still can’t stand the sound of a dubbed show. The dubbing is usually very obvious – the voices sound like they are sitting around a studio and not engaged in the scene that is taking place. Scenes with screaming/crying are especially poorly done and unbearable. Movies are usually better done, but it still feels like a disservice.
    .-= CN Heidelberg´s last blog ..Nine, nein, oh nein =-.

  • http://yahoo.com/ stupidboy

    Being a late-bloomer in foreign language-study, I find dubbing really helpful in improving my proficiency. English is my second language and I started learning textbook french when I was 24, three years ago. Currently I am studying german and spanish in the same time while building some basics to learn russian and mandarin. Due to years of exposure in Hollywood-storytelling style, I found it difficult to understand and appreciate french, german and spanish speaking movies. To ease the transition, dubbed movies are really important. Initially, I started by watching Star Wars trilogy dubbed in spanish and german. Then I also find in youtube a lot of disney movies and animes in various languages. Personally this method works for me because I enjoy it.

    I really hope after spending several months listening to dubbed movies I would finally understand original movies , news and stand-up comedies delivered in the native languages.

    btw: Jennie, I really like your blog. Sometimes, leaning languages can be very depressive. Reading your posts really gives me encouragement and motivation. Keep on writing!

  • http://yahoo.com stupidboy

    Being a late-bloomer in foreign language-study, I find dubbing really helpful in improving my proficiency. English is my second language and I started learning textbook french when I was 24, three years ago. Currently I am studying german and spanish in the same time while building some basics to learn russian and mandarin. Due to years of exposure in Hollywood-storytelling style, I found it difficult to understand and appreciate french, german and spanish speaking movies. To ease the transition, dubbed movies are really important. Initially, I started by watching Star Wars trilogy dubbed in spanish and german. Then I also find in youtube a lot of disney movies and animes in various languages. Personally this method works for me because I enjoy it.

    I really hope after spending several months listening to dubbed movies I would finally understand original movies , news and stand-up comedies delivered in the native languages.

    btw: Jennie, I really like your blog. Sometimes, leaning languages can be very depressive. Reading your posts really gives me encouragement and motivation. Keep on writing!

  • http://www.savagereflections.blogspot.com/ Berowne

    I did a lot of dubbing and subtitle-writing in New York in my early years in the film business. I learned that often the producers of a foreign film would do subtitles for it that were written in England; they thought that would be fine for the Americans when they saw the film and it was certainly cheaper than to make subtitles specifically for the Yanks.
    Result was that a French film was, thanks to the subtitles, full of Britishisms. Example: a scene of a French wedding; lots of people enjoying the great food. “Quelle sauce merveilleuse!” said one actor; this was subtitled as “Jolly good gravy!” Throughout the movie the French folks would mention such things as argy-bargy, chuffed and bob’s your uncle, giving the colonials a rather odd view of life in France.
    .-= Berowne´s last blog ..Who Wrote Shakespeare? =-.

  • http://www.savagereflections.blogspot.com Berowne

    I did a lot of dubbing and subtitle-writing in New York in my early years in the film business. I learned that often the producers of a foreign film would do subtitles for it that were written in England; they thought that would be fine for the Americans when they saw the film and it was certainly cheaper than to make subtitles specifically for the Yanks.
    Result was that a French film was, thanks to the subtitles, full of Britishisms. Example: a scene of a French wedding; lots of people enjoying the great food. “Quelle sauce merveilleuse!” said one actor; this was subtitled as “Jolly good gravy!” Throughout the movie the French folks would mention such things as argy-bargy, chuffed and bob’s your uncle, giving the colonials a rather odd view of life in France.
    .-= Berowne´s last blog ..Who Wrote Shakespeare? =-.

  • G.L.

    What if we think about the issue in reverse? Your argument is entirely against dubbing, in order to be in favour of listening comprehension for people trying to learn *English*.

    But what about English-speakers trying to learn a foreign language? I do watch French films with English subtitles, and really enjoy when I actually understand what they’ve said without needing the subtitles. But I was considering taking this a step further by purchasing American series dubbed into French – especially ones that I am highly familiar with and could follow along without the subtitles. Even if there are cultural differences, like you say, the words do translate into other languages.

    We also need to be cognisant of the fact that there are many differences from one English speaking nation to another. Although Americans really believe that we speak the language ‘correctly’, so do the Brits and the Aussies, etc. So if a person who isn’t native to the language has grown accustomed to one nation’s way of speaking – Britain, for example – then they might be confused by hearing the way an American speaks, or vice versa.

    I think dubbing is something that should be embraced. English speaking people need to be more sensitive to the existence of other languages, and their right to enjoy their entertainment in their own native language. Not everyone should be required to learn English – why shouldn’t we be required to learn another language?

  • G.L.

    What if we think about the issue in reverse? Your argument is entirely against dubbing, in order to be in favour of listening comprehension for people trying to learn *English*.

    But what about English-speakers trying to learn a foreign language? I do watch French films with English subtitles, and really enjoy when I actually understand what they’ve said without needing the subtitles. But I was considering taking this a step further by purchasing American series dubbed into French – especially ones that I am highly familiar with and could follow along without the subtitles. Even if there are cultural differences, like you say, the words do translate into other languages.

    We also need to be cognisant of the fact that there are many differences from one English speaking nation to another. Although Americans really believe that we speak the language ‘correctly’, so do the Brits and the Aussies, etc. So if a person who isn’t native to the language has grown accustomed to one nation’s way of speaking – Britain, for example – then they might be confused by hearing the way an American speaks, or vice versa.

    I think dubbing is something that should be embraced. English speaking people need to be more sensitive to the existence of other languages, and their right to enjoy their entertainment in their own native language. Not everyone should be required to learn English – why shouldn’t we be required to learn another language?

  • All about dowsing

    G.L., I disagree with you about dubbing. I have checked on wikipedia that those countries who use subtitling have a higher English-speaking rate than those who use dubbing. Besides, dubbing spoils the authencity of the movie. So I think that dubbing should be stopped. I agree with you, Jennie en France.

  • All about dowsing

    G.L., I disagree with you about dubbing. I have checked on wikipedia that those countries who use subtitling have a higher English-speaking rate than those who use dubbing. Besides, dubbing spoils the authencity of the movie. So I think that dubbing should be stopped. I agree with you, Jennie en France.

  • Julio

    I can’t stand dubbing in any of its form –
    cheap french dubbing of dubious shows for instance –

    check this : http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x51nqn_les-choses-de-la-vie_shortfilms

  • Julio

    I can’t stand dubbing in any of its form –
    cheap french dubbing of dubious shows for instance –

    check this : http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x51nqn_les-choses-de-la-vie_shortfilms

  • Kaarlo Suotamo

    Dubbing first of all destroys the voice of the original actor. The voice that gives the soul to the movie. Dubbing is language rasism.Majority of european states is dubbing. People obviously are not able to read subtitles and they are afraid to think.
    French is beautiful language. They should not be so afraid. nobody is going to steal their language. But they are stealing the others. it is a shame. I know many french who think that way too,

  • Kaarlo Suotamo

    Dubbing first of all destroys the voice of the original actor. The voice that gives the soul to the movie. Dubbing is language rasism.Majority of european states is dubbing. People obviously are not able to read subtitles and they are afraid to think.
    French is beautiful language. They should not be so afraid. nobody is going to steal their language. But they are stealing the others. it is a shame. I know many french who think that way too,

  • All about dowsing

    Besides,GL, there are many French films that are available in French! Why should we watch a dubbed film that is fake?! Also, there are Fench radio stations that broadcast from Montréal and Paris and TV5Monde broadcasts through out the world! So it is better to listen and watch materiall that broadcasts in French, not dubbed films.

  • All about dowsing

    Besides,GL, there are many French films that are available in French! Why should we watch a dubbed film that is fake?! Also, there are Fench radio stations that broadcast from Montréal and Paris and TV5Monde broadcasts through out the world! So it is better to listen and watch materiall that broadcasts in French, not dubbed films.

  • All about dowsing

    Besides,GL, there are many French films that are available in French! Why should we watch a dubbed film that is fake?! Also, there are Fench radio stations that broadcast from Montréal and Paris and TV5Monde broadcasts through out the world! So it is better to listen and watch materiall that broadcasts in French, not dubbed films.

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  • Anonymous

    It is the same for Italian movies. My Italian friends fall off their chairs laughing when they hear Gregory Peck’s voice for the first time and they think that Tom Hanks’ voice is just down right horrible. They much prefer hearing the Italian voice that dubs all his movies! So much more suave they think! But, I always say, you are missing the whole point…the intonation, the inflections, the comic pauses…all the things make Tom Hanks the comedic star that he is and what makes his acting special!

    While I think it is a shame that many American movies are dubbed into another language for the reasons you mention, I do rather enjoy seeing them in their dubbed Italian versions (instead of the English versions). On the flip side, seeing American films dubbed in Italian helps my Italian fluency and it doesn’t bother me that much that the lips don’t sync up completely (however, as you mention with French films, in Italy they tend to used the same voice for multiple tv shows, causing a little confusion and blurring of the characters). Of course I watch original Italian films too, but if I have to watch stupid American TV I much prefer to watch it in another language. It makes it all so much more elevated and interesting and serves a higher purpose somehow! 😉

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    I know what you mean about watching American things dubbed in other languages to help with fluency. I still watch CSI and NCIS in French all the time even though I’ve seen all the episodes in English just to keep up with my fluency and perhaps learn new slang words. Plus sometimes the French voices are actually better than the original – I cannot stand to watch CSI: Miami in English because of David Carruso’s voice, but it’s fine in French!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1321296538 Original Cyberluddite

    here in madrid, things have improved a lot in recent years, what with DVDs and now digital TV, which offers a surprisingly high likelihood of “dual” voice option.

    not so as recently as 10 years ago, when VHS was the norm and all of it dubbed. i used to rant about dubbing but i’ve cooled off thanks to these tech marvels (including wifi) that allow me to basically live with american culture as if i still lived in america.

    a few years ago, i was pretty merciless and would mock spaniards for accepting the travesty that is dubbing. in fact i still mock them whenever i get the chance, because i blame audiences for putting up with it.

    another similar but unrelated annoyance — widespread use in commercials of pop songs with wildly inappropriate lyrics.

  • Adrian

    G.L. You actually agree, read the post again.

  • Adrian

    Much harder to learn this way, unless, perhaps, one gets both dubbing and subtitles. I moved to Austria 1 1/2 years ago and I know for a fact it’s virtually impossible to learn a foreign language via dubbing.

  • Vinu

    I’m french, and I know just how much people are used to dubbed TV shows/movies over there. In the end, that’s what the problem is. You grow up watching french TV, and every single thing you watch is dubbed.

    That is the norm for you from the beginning (that’s why the same thing dubbed in German or Spanish will sound ridiculous for you, when it’s obviously as much of a laugh as the french version).

    Then you get to travel a bit, or even live abroad. That’s when you realize how stupid you’ve been for watching “fake” content and you wonder how it didn’t even bother you before. You realize how dumb it sounds, so much you actually can’t go back to watching dubbed shows or movies.

    It’s like say, attending a Radiohead gig where the speakers are playing a cover band instead of the real thing. Shocking. You don’t get the actual performances. You don’t get the interpretations. And finally, it doesn’t match.

    What I just don’t get, is why some country still dub movies. If you can be used to dubbed movies from day 1, it is pretty clear it can apply for subtitled movies as well. You get to learn the language… And it costs much less. Everybody wins.

  • Michael

    You talk complete and utter garbage. I learned german language by watching american shows and movies dubbed into german language from german tv channels.

  • AdrianisRetarded

    Shut up, retard. The more you write the more you prove your stupidity, brainfuck.

  • http://www.inglesparaleigos.com Ueritom Ribeiro Borges

    Here in Brazil most foreign movies have both options (dubbed and subtitled movies). It’s up to every person to choose which one they will watch. Anyway, I keep preferring subtitled movies, because I can hear the original voices, and also because I understand almost everything. :)

  • Joe

    I’m an American ex-pat that has lived in Paris for the last 10 years. I teach at English speaking international universities and yes, those students from countries where one grows up watching real US TV are twice and thrice proficient in English as the French. France is doing a disservice to its youth by not letting them in on the real thing. Dubbed TV is harmful in distorting culture,
    and harmful in reinforcement of the pseudo importance of local languages of small countries. Let’s all live together in an English speaking world — that’s the way to get thoughts exchanged, work done, and love spread about.

  • Woz

    I disagree here. I became conversational in Spanish in a matter of months by rewatching all my favorite shows in a Spanish dub. I’ve got friends who think it’s tacky and inauthentic but – hey – it works. Admittedly it might not be of much use for the beginner, but for the intermediate learner, it can be an invaluable tool to improve your listening skills. Most importantly, it teaches you how to say things that are familiar in your target language.

    On the other hand, learning Swedish is harder since they use subtitles instead of dubs, so it’s harder to figure out how words are pronounced. That’s a reason why I watch a lot of cartoons, which thankfully are still dubbed.