Foreign Languages in Movies

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Tapir12
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Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Tapir12 » 23 Aug 2010, 22:01

I just found this on Roger Ebert's Twitter and thought it was pretty interesting. It's a quick study of how foriegn languages are presented in American (English Speaking) films.

Here's the link

Being an anime fan, I am pretty used to reading subtitles but I still know some people who won't watch a movie if it has subtitles in it. I know this bothered a lot of people about Inglorious Basterds, but I thought the use of foreign languages really made the film more effective.

Another movie I thought of that isn't mentioned in the slideshow is District 9, where the aliens can understand English, but the humans can't understand the alien language. So we end up with a one-sided understanding.

Also, what if the toys made in China in Toy Story all spoke Chinese?
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Smeghead » 23 Aug 2010, 22:34

English speaking people who won't watch movies where they have to read the subtitle? :P

(I don't think I have to say anything more at this point)
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Murakami » 23 Aug 2010, 23:09

I don't think Toy Story would be a better movie that way, but I did like the fact Inglourious Basterds did use different languages for people of different nationality. But then again, I am also very used to reading subtitles because I'm dutch. Even more, when I was growing up not only most of the movies, but most of the cartoons were subtitled too. And because I watched a lot of television I learned english at a young age. So, uhh: subtitles teach you languages!

That link was a nice read and watch too, by the way.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Smeghead » 23 Aug 2010, 23:17

Same. I mean the only thing that is dubbed here are cartoons; everything else is subtitled, so it's a lot of reading (well i don't actually need to read the subtitle for english stuff but it's become a habit to read it (That however is a problem; when it's subtiteled in a language I don't understand and yet my mind keeps trying to read it.

But still, people refusing to see a movie because they have to read the subtitle? that's stupid.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Murakami » 23 Aug 2010, 23:20

I cannot understand why someone would not go see a movie because of that. Well, maybe because they aren't used to reading subtitles ánd watching a movie, which probably is a skill. We learned that skill as children, I think, because so much more is subtitled where we grow up.

I would like to hear from somebody who has difficulties with subtitles.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Telaril » 24 Aug 2010, 00:15

I have a younger brother who has a slight learning disability related to reading speed. He's quite good at everything else academic (he's a top student at his college), but when watching most things with subtitles about 1/2 - 1/3 of the lines flash off screen before he can finish them.

He watches only a very few subbed anime, and it's impossible for me to watch them with him. He'll hover his hand over the controller, and have to rewind or pause CONSTANTLY. He's gotta be pretty obsessed with something to put up with subtitles. I don't think this is an issue for most people who dislike subtitles, but it may be for a portion of them.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Mad Madam Mimm » 24 Aug 2010, 02:50

One of the best films I've seen all year was Mic Macs, a french film which was entirely in subtitles. The fact that people will decide against seeing a film because they have to read one or two characters speech in subtitles saddens me so very much
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Lyinginbedmon » 24 Aug 2010, 03:03

It's reading, you had to do it at some point to actually go and see the movie in the first place. I have zero problem with subtitles, though I know people who do, one guy the anime society at uni for example was dyslexic and had issues reading subtitles.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby iamafish » 24 Aug 2010, 03:11

Mad Madam Mimm wrote:One of the best films I've seen all year was Mic Macs, a french film which was entirely in subtitles. The fact that people will decide against seeing a film because they have to read one or two characters speech in subtitles saddens me so very much


it's their loss

I don't mind subtitles. It irritates me when subtitles are on in the same language as the one being spoken, because i will read the subtitles regardless, so I wont watch what's going on on-screen as intently, which is annoying because I tend to miss important stuff
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Master Gunner » 24 Aug 2010, 03:54

I have no problem with subtitles, so long as they're used properly. In situations where it shouldn't be a question what language the characters are speaking (such as on the Russian subs in The Hunt for Red October), translation convention should be in effect, we know they're actually speaking Russian, but it's just easier for everyone if we watch them speak the audience's language. On the other hand there's movies like Bon Cop, Bad Cop, where half the movie is in English and the other half in French. Because they're constantly switching between languages, it makes more sense for them to actually speak English and French and subtitle it appropriately for where it's shown.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby theDreamer » 24 Aug 2010, 04:08

Sometimes, when the option presents itself, and I'm feeling really lazy, I'll watch dubbed anime instead of subbed.

Only, (with the exception so far of Cardcaptor Sakura so far), american voice actors are much worse than japanese.

So I prefer to watch subbed, generally.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby auberginequeen » 24 Aug 2010, 06:09

I prefer watching all TV and movies (even in English) with subtitles on because I have a tendency to mishear or completely miss parts of what they're saying and I can read the subtitles to check.

Therefore foreign movies with subtitles are no issue for me either.

People I watch with usually complain that the subtitles distract from what's going on in the program and want me to turn them off, but if I do I'll miss parts of the storyline. Either way, one of us is not enjoying the program to the fullest extent.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Drinnik » 24 Aug 2010, 06:10

I'm not a huge Anime fan, but when I watch it I tend to watch it subbed. It helps that the only Anime I regularly watch is Cowboy Bebop and that is generally held to have one of the best subs in Anime.

When it comes to film, I'd rather the forgieners spoke forgien. Otherwise you get the ludicrous scenes where the usually American hero overhears the two German guards discussing their secret plan in English...
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Vigafre » 24 Aug 2010, 06:45

iamafish wrote:I don't mind subtitles. It irritates me when subtitles are on in the same language as the one being spoken, because i will read the subtitles regardless, so I wont watch what's going on on-screen as intently, which is annoying because I tend to miss important stuff

I'm pretty much like this, but for subtitles in general.

If I have to (which is almost never), I'll watch something with subtitles, but subtitles really distract me from the movie. I read sort of slowly, and by the time I finish one subtitle, another one is on the screen, so I have to start reading that. I will have missed almost anything going on.

However, with video games, I need them, otherwise I won't understand what's going on.

Uh...original topic...

I'm ambivalent on the "everyone speaks English" thing in movies. While I understand why producers would do that (and sometimes it's much appreciated), many a time it's jarring. I don't want Nazis yelling in English, I don't want Napoleon yelling in English, I don't want Q'zelar yelling in English. I want some original languages, damn it!
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Bananafish » 24 Aug 2010, 07:36

uh, english is the best language and america rules so why wouldn't everyone else be represented as speaking it??
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby sdhonda » 24 Aug 2010, 07:41

'cause they're terrorists, duh.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Bananafish » 24 Aug 2010, 07:55

are British films really anglocentric? I wanna know how these techniques translate (HEH) across other countries

e: europe might actually do this more often than the US now that I think about it
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Elomin Sha » 24 Aug 2010, 08:16

I love watching films in the original language and reading subtitles.

On the topic of America ruling, why don't you get your own languages and not bastardise it?
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby goat » 24 Aug 2010, 08:36

It's sad, but true. Production companies in america are worried that including subtitles will drive down profits. Even more sadly, they're usually correct.

One of my favorite instances of foreign language in films was in 2 Days in Paris. A man and his wife are on vacation in Europe and spend 2 days in Paris visiting the wife's family. The man speaks no french whatsoever and the french in the film is never subtitled and almost never explained. The man is left to his own devices of piecing together french and fumbling with a translational dictionary through most of the film. A very interesting take on culture shock (even if the characters are hard to relate to).
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Metcarfre » 24 Aug 2010, 08:40

I like subtitles, but I don't fault people who don't.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby sdhonda » 24 Aug 2010, 08:43

Margaret Atwood once mentioned that when travelling in Europe in her 20s, she saw a version of Some Like It Hot with no less than 4 subtitles (French, Flemish, German and one other).

But ya, it is truly sad how some people are outright hostile to films with subs. Theres several stories about them on Notalwaysright.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby korri » 24 Aug 2010, 09:48

I don't mind watching movies with subtitles, but I always feel like I'm missing something. Part of it is that my attention isn't focused on the action on the screen but rather on the words.

Another is that sometimes I don't trust subtitles... I do know some spanish and when I watch spanish films sometimes I know what they're saying isn't quite what is being translated...

However, one movie Night Watch has the coolest subs I've ever seen. I honestly dont think the movie would have been as good if there weren't subtitles. In fact I didn't really like the sequel, Day Watch that much because the subtitles weren't animated (and for other reasons, but I still think I would have liked it better with them animated)
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby goat » 24 Aug 2010, 11:29

korri wrote:However, one movie Night Watch has the coolest subs I've ever seen. I honestly dont think the movie would have been as good if there weren't subtitles. In fact I didn't really like the sequel, Day Watch that much because the subtitles weren't animated (and for other reasons, but I still think I would have liked it better with them animated)


Really? I need to watch those again.
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby korri » 24 Aug 2010, 11:45

You have to make sure you get the right version with the animated subtittles. They aren't always, but when they are animated, its pretty awesome
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Re: Foreign Languages in Movies

Postby Emperor Gum » 24 Aug 2010, 11:52

You know, I never understood why people say the Japenese voice actors are better. If you can't speak the language, how can you tell if they are a good voice actor or not?
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