Monday, August 22, 2011

A Dubbed Life

I know I live in a foreign country but there is just something so wrong about watching things like "Juno" in Portuguese. Where is the SAP? Oh yes, I do have that except it doesn't work on 75% of the channels. It only turns the show to Spanish! It's like the television version of the cock block.

At the same time, I keep reminding myself that I do not live in the states and it is ridiculous to expect anything in English. I should be happy with the Warner Station and their willingness to use subtitles. That and the fact that SAP does switch the dubbed cartoons to English. I'm sorry but dubbed cartoons are the most annoying thing in the world!

Of course, that does exclude Dora since her "dubbed" version switches her first language to English and her speaking language to Portuguese. From my point of view, that's kind of entertaining.

Now animation movies are just painful! My kids don't care seeing that they are fully bilingual but I was a bit bummed to miss Shrek on the big screen in English. Regardless of the translations being pretty good, I still don't get all the jokes. By the way, if you want to make yourself feel like an ass go to a movie with a bunch of 4 yr olds and be the one who doesn't get the joke.

But it really comes down to the basic point that some things in Portuguese just aren't funny to me. Maybe the language and I aren't as intimate as I'd like to think. I don't know what it is but I find myself thinking "that's not that funny." or "say what?"

Then again, it goes both ways. As Mr. Rant says, you can't always trust the Brazilian reviews of American slap stick comedies. They just don't get American humor and it does not translate that well.

So far enough. One of these days I'll fully blend in. I suppose I'll have to go back to watching Brazilian soap operas. I hesitate though because they are the true crack of Brazil! Seriously! You should try calling a dedicated Brazilian soap watcher 5 minutes into the program. Even Grandma doesn't take too kindly to that. 


  1. I know what you mean. My kids have been watching a lot of American series lately (ICarly, Big Time Rush, another one at a school with two angels - the principal and a student) and when I hear what the dubbed characters say... it just doesn't make sense. Or I try to guess what they would say in English. Well... jokes are the most difficult thing to translate. Some are UNtranslateable, I guess.
    Luckily in the NL all films are in the original language, with Dutch subtitles. It goes very fast. This helps the Dutch get even more used to English. I even have learned some words in German (a language I have never studied) after watching a couple of German movies. One funny thing happens when people start cursing on the telly. The Dutch use expression such as "Get the cholera !" "Get typhus" and "get syphilys" instead of the original "F*** you !" Hahaha !
    They also use in subtitles for films their Dutch expressions with bikes, windmills, clogs, calvinism, canals and bad weather for very American jokes. It is ridiculous.

  2. at least u have movies in the original language !!! In some countries like france , italy , spain , portugal is all dubbed at cinemas and at home !!!

  3. There might be hope yet, Rachel. Comedy Central is expanding to Brazil. Will there be a Brazilian Jon Stewart soon? (swoon)

  4. Brazilian humor and American humor are completely different. Brazilians that are working on the dubbed translations can't understand the jokes so they make up the closest thing they can think, that's why it doesn't make any sense.
    Now that we have been here for almost 15 years, we can't stand Brazilian sense of humor for the most part, we get it, but it's just too silly for us.


  5. When I live in Rio, I remember going to see a Woody Allen movie in the movie theatre in Cinelandia --- needless to say I was the only one in the whole audience laughing out loud through the entire film. It really made me miss NYC!

  6. Jokes are always lost in translation in any language :(

  7. I recall watching an episode of E.R in which doctors and nurses discussed where they went to college. Anyway the cutie nurse character played by Maura Tierney said in a scene "I went to Penn State" which was translated to "Eu me formei na Penitenciária Estadual".Ugh. The lastest screw up I witnessed was on CNN where an economic forecaster said that America, although downgraded by S&P rating agency, was far from being Greece and this was translated as " muito longe de ser graxa". I kid you not.
    I wonder if this guy would have given the movie "Grease" the title "Grecia" in Brazil. Yep, "Grecia is the word, it's the word that we know, It's got groove, it's got feeling..."

  8. I was just thinking this same thing yesterday when the movie "The Family Man" with Nicolas Cage was on TNT and even though the Eng option popped up under the SAP green button, it lied. So I ended up watching the movie dubbed in Portuguese. I'm so thankful for digital cable because I remember the first few years here (especially the pregnant and baby ones when I took up t.v.-watching being homebound) we didn't have the option of SAP(or at least nothing was!) or anywhere near the selection of shows we do now. I think that did help me learn Portuguese a lot, even if I would have just preferred tuning out and watching some mindless t.v. I watched Discovery Kids solely in Portuguese until 2008 or 2009. It was weird finally hearing the shows in English! And yes, a lot of the translations here are pretty's funny when you catch it following the subtitles.

  9. Hey, I just moved to Brazil after 3 years in Spanish-speaking Latin America and I'm trying to get orientated a bit. So I'm here reading old posts of yours, and it sounds an awful lot like my life (minus the kids)! I think Colombians and Brazilians might be long lost relatives. Law and Order in Spanish is the worst, I somehow don't mind animated things as much because in my mind, it's not like the cartoons actually have real voices anyway. At any rate, we're getting a big kick out of your blog. Thanks!

  10. If you really want a American TV fix, go online and buy a Slingbox for a relative in the States (about $300 from Best Buy) and have them hook it up to their TV/cable box. A Slingbox will give you complete access to their DVR so you can even record the shows that you want and watch them when you want via your computer (it should't really interfere with their viewing). I've even seen posts on expat websites for Slingbox exchanges - i.e. you find a Brazilian living in the States who wants access to Brazilian TV. You each agree to hook up a Slingbox to your TVs and allow each other access to the other's Slingbox. The Brazilian in the US gets his Brazilian TV fix and you get your American TV fix.

    I've never tried Slingbox myself since I was able to get enough English TV in the countries I've lived in before, but I plan to get this time around for our move to Brazil. (My parents are letting me hook it up to their TV/cable). My husband thinks this is a horrible idea and that we should completely immerse ourselves in the Brazilian culture, but he has never lived abroad before and has no idea how much he will come to miss American TV! We'll see how long he lasts before he caves and needs his American TV fix.

  11. just a quick comment to the inability to translate jokes in dubbed movies. Dubbing involves a lot more than literal translation: dubbers should ideally match meaning and labial movements/number of syllables/time sync etc...many times this is not possible and they decide to choose labial sync over meaning, and this is especially true when there's a close-up. It's unfortunate, but if they didnt do so, the result could be very poor, and quite disturbing to watch.

  12. I first watched "Rio" in Portuguese and loved it. When I finally saw the original English, it felt like a different movie :-/