Subtitling vs. Dubbing

Published 2nd May 2016
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What kind of movies do you prefer? Subbed or dubbed movies? I am going to mention the pros and cons of these practices:

Those who support subtitling (including me) when watching a film or a TV program agreed on the fact that when a movie or program is dubbed into another language, it becomes devalued, less authentic and part of film’s artistic value is lost. Besides, the quality of the actress or actor’s performance is not conveyed in the same way in a dubbed movie, as their interpretation of emotional, comical or dramatic scenes is perceived and felt much better by the audience in its original version. Another advantage to subtitling is the benefit it has for people learning the original language.

Among the arguments against subtitled movies are the invasion of screen space, which disrespects the graphic artist and the film director’s original intention, as well as the visual distraction of trying to keep up with reading what the characters are saying while paying attention to what’s happening on the screen, as a result missing part of the onscreen action, especially when you don’t know a word of the original spoken language.

Given the variety of opinions, I think it is fair enough to leave that decision up to the audience, give them the right to choose between watching films in the original or dubbed version.

New technology is making that possible. Thankfully, many dubbing and subtitling programmes have been developed in the film industry, and a lot has changed on TV too: some TV systems (mostly in pay TV though), now offer the possibility of choosing a language, setting up subtitles, the language of the subtitles, and so on.

In closing, I’ll let you know that France, Spain, Germany, Russia and Italy are the only countries in Europe which prefer dubbing better over subtitling, whereas the subtitling countries include Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the UK, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.

Which side are you on?

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