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.

La Maison de Jean-Jacques Rousseau dans les Charmettes

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, of Social Contract fame, lived in a house in the Charmettes, just outside of Chambéry, from 1735-1742. He kept a garden and vineyard there while he spent the rest of his time writing. It is open to the public for free and there is also a temporary exposition until December 31 titled “Je […]

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Zee French Appartement

Even though we moved into this apartment back in May, we are still not finished acquiring all the furniture we want/need. The last piece of the puzzle is a clic-clac for the living room. We do have a small couch, but it’s too uncomfortable and impossible to sleep on.  We were supposed to receive the […]

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Ready for my Rentrée

School starts in 11 days and I’m so excited! I love my job and being on vacation for nearly 5 months was getting a little old. I can’t wait to get back in the computer room and audio labs and play with the technology teach students English. Everything will be so much easier this year […]

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Is your French better than a reality show contestant’s?

Meet Vanessa. She’s on a reality show in France called Secret Story. If the fact that she’s on a reality show doesn’t already tell you she’s a moron, her 53 grammar mistakes in 27 seconds will. (Ok, she didn’t make quite that many mistakes, but come on! I speak French better than her!!)

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New friend, French wedding and football match

I met up with the lovely Cynthia on Friday and chatted with her for a few hours about being an American expat in Chambéry. It’s always nice to talk to someone who is going through the exact same thing and has the same thoughts about our old and new countries. Check out her blog for […]

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Language Learning Quotes

To get back into full language learning mode, here are some quotes from scholarly journals and books to keep in mind. Citations are on the bibliography page. 1) why textbooks will not teach you to speak a language…. “Textbooks often present forms that are not commonly used, and most non-natives acquiring a language in a […]

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Parc des Bauges : Le Petit Canada

We took a little drive up the mountains into the Parc des Bauges this afternoon. There are several different areas of the park, but we decided to go to Savoie Grand Revard – mostly because it’s pretty close to Chambéry and offers a great view of Lac du Bourget, but also because it’s called le […]

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La Rentrée is coming! La Rentrée is coming!

It’s the last weekend of summer here in France. Kids go back to school this Wednesday and I couldn’t be happier. Hopefully there will be fewer loud scooters on the street after midnight. And I can go shopping without being surrounded by a bazillion annoying, bratty kids. La rentrée means more than just back to […]

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Lac d’Aiguebelette en Savoie

We went to Lac d’Aiguebelette today, about 20 minutes west of Chambéry. It was a bit windy and too chilly for me to go swimming, so we just drove around the entire lake and took pictures of the beautiful countryside.  Next time we’ll rent a pédalo and actually go in the water.  We first attempted […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.

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