Spanish law to ban dubbed films?

So apparently the government in Spain is considering passing a new law which would force broadcasters and cinemas to show films and other dramas in the original soundtrack (which is in most cases English) with Spanish subtitles, instead of having them dubbed into a Spanish soundtrack.

Apparently this is part of a drive to get young Spanish people speaking English, because many of them are said to have somewhat poor English skills at the moment…?!

Well, I can understand there may be some laudable motives for doing this. And I can see the benefits (in the modern world) of having young people in Spain brought up with good English skills. But passing a law which actually forces TV companies or cinemas to do this? Seriously?

Aside from the illiberal and authoritarian nature of this (which seems to me an utter outrage, in fact) I’m not convinced it will even have the desired effect?

In Germany many young people do indeed have good English skills - yet 99.9% of films in German cinemas are dubbed into German; ditto foreign material broadcast on German TV. (At least, this was the case 10 years ago when I last lived there - and I’m not aware of any change?)

On the other hand, here in England we have never had much tradition of dubbing foreign material into English. Admittedly there is a relatively low volume of foreign language films shown here, but where a French/German/Italian/etc film is shown, it will inevitably be shown in the original language with English subtitles. Yet young people in England are not exactly noted for their silky smooth command of foreign tongues…!

Either way, the law does seems to be all part of the “English creep” that we have been seeing in Europe over the last 30 years or more.

I wonder whether there isn’t an ultimate agenda of relegating national languages in countries like Spain to a kind of second class status?!

English, Chinese and Russian - in anther 30 years time maybe these will be the only languages worth learning?

I very much agree with you. Especially about the “English creep” and how stupid it is to fall back on banning and compelling when it comes to education.
On the other hand, don’t worry about the last bit. If one thing has been proven time and again is that learning requires will and effort. No amount of rule making will ever make people learn what they’re not willing to study seriously.
On the other hand, all I’ve heard about this matter is that a couple of crackpots (actor Toni Cantó, director Carlos Saura) have proposed it. I’m not aware of any actual steps toward an official banning.

I agree - people have to be motivated to learn. They have to want to learn. No law is - in itself - ever going to achieve this.

I don’t know whether it’s true to say that young people in Spain have poorer English skills than in other countries? (I doubt whether they are worse than, say, youngsters in France or Italy in this regard?) But IF it’s true, then maybe it has something to do with the fact that Spanish is itself a very widely spoken language in South America (and maybe increasingly in North America too?) as well as in Spain?

Maybe they have the feeling that there is less benefit to learning, seeing there are so many native speakers of their own language?

(Certainly I think that a similar rationale is a large part of the reason why so many young people in English speaking countries have zero interest in foreign languages…)

Yes, that’s a big part. The feeling that you don’t need it that much. You can see the same phenomenon in the case of Russian and Chinese speakers.

Seems like a good idea to me. Like it or not English is very useful as an international language. And of course, the opportunity then would exist to hear other films in the original, The best solution would be to equip the remotes with an “original” or “dubbed” button.

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As I understand it, cinemas and TV companies would be forced to show the original (mostly English) soundtrack versions of films and dramas.

I’m all for choice. If there is a demand for original versions - go for it.

But forcing it down people’s throats…really…that can’t be the way to go?

In fact, it’s so extraordinary that I can’t help wondering whether there isn’t some other secret agenda here?

Maybe they are trying to strengthen the Spanish film industry by decreasing the popularity of Hollywood fare to most ordinary cinema goers…or something…?!

I think the “dual” option that Steve mentions already exists for many films, I don’t own a TV set so I can’t be completely sure.
I very much agree with Jay about how stupid it is to just force or ban. I’ve been googling for reactions about this and I think most people in Spain are against banning as well.

Ever the conspiracy hound.

Oh, the Spanish government’s not that smart, hahhaha. And they have a long-running quarrel with the Spanish film industry.
I really think there’s no real project for this. Just a couple of people proposed it and there’s some discussion about it (mostly negative as far as I can tell).

Yeah, looking more closely it seems that there is (at the moment) a ban in the other direction - i.e. films must be dubbed into Spanish. Well, I’d say that’s wrong too. In my opinion people should be free to choose what to offer their viewers. And viewers should be free to make their wishes known and, so to speak, to vote with their feet.

Governments have no business telling people how to watch entertainment - it’s authoritarian and illiberal, IMO.

On the other hand, the original proponents (an actor and a director) might have had something like that in mind.

I wouldn’t call it a “conspiracy”. It’s just a matter of what the intelligent rationale could be for doing something so extraordinary?

But maybe Ftornay its right? Perhaps this would be crediting Spanish politicians with too much reflection about actions and possible consequences?

I myself, being brought up in Sweden, grew up with English all around me and I know that this have helped me very much with learning English. My parents was solely taught English through school and they are not very good at the language so I only see good things coming from this. I mean, surely passing laws against the dubbing is a little extreme but I do think that it’ll help the younger generation learning English. Like it or not, English is a very important language right now. Without English, one loses lots of oportunities in this global world. Nearly every work place has connections to the whole world. My parents wish they spoke better English (even if they speak alright english) because living in a non-englishspeaking country recuires English!
We cannot keep languages from changing, it happens all the time. Two generations ago they spoke really thick dialects in Skåne (a part in Sweden where I live) and I cannot understand them. Yes, languages right now are very influenced by English but keep in mind that at least Swedish is very influenced by german and french.
To sumerize this kind of off-track text, I think it’ll benefit the learning of English :slight_smile:

Yes it could benefit people in their English learning. And that is not altogether a bad thing from the point of view of Spanish people.

But it may also very greatly weaken the appeal of Hollywood films - especially for older generations of Spanish cinema goers. When people go to see a movie they are paying for entertainment not a language class!! (Similar thing with TV.)

So this may, paradoxically, have the effect of decreasing the amount of English films and TV dramas which people will be exposed to, and increasing the amount of Spanish (and Latin American) material. (Ftornay has pointed out that some prominent people from the Spanish film industry are in support of this measure - which is kind of revealing in this regard.)

As I said above, I would be totally unfazed by all of this if Spanish cinemas were choosing to do this because of market demand. But I don’t see how using the law to make people watch X or Y language can be okay? It just smacks of the Franco era…it’s somehow horribly authoritarian.

Apparently they are also thinking of forcing all schools to use only Spanish for instruction rather than regional languages like Catalan or Basque - which is again horribly illiberal, IMO. (But then again, these regions are actively trying to break away and become independent from Spain, so in the near future they may decide their own laws…)

I’m not informed in anything regarding the situation so this is solely me writing about the subtitles. I know how it is to live in a country that has subtitles on nearly everything - and we don’t think about it. Sure, maybe the first generation who experienced subtitles for the first time was against it but growing up nobody in my generation thought about it. If the older generation doesn’t like it I think that over time it’ll change like it has in most european countries and I do not see anything bad in this. My grandparents grew up without television and the most entertainment they watch are in english with subtitles. To be honest, dubbed movies are the worst because it looks bad, sounds wrong (especially when they switch voice-actors halfway through a series - I remember cringing as a child) and a lot get lost in translation. Yes, it does get lost in translation to subtitles as well but then if you know the language you get the points. I’m often surprised how much dubbing and subtitles actually miss!
If the Spanish film-industry benefit from this, that’s great! More content that is original and produced in the country itself rather than imported material. Killing entertainment that is not produced in America or Great Britain is bad. The hollywood industry won’t die anytime soon. I also believe that hollywood movies etc will not totally go down in sales because today there is the internet and it’s the internet that provides reviews, information etc.
Subtitles are a natural thing in most european countries and nobody thinks about it and wishes that they were dubbed because it becomes part of the society. That being said, I’m against a total ban against dubbing because I do not believe in passing laws against this kind of thing. I just doesn’t see anything bad with having to read subtitles and wanted to give an opinion from someone who is brought up with subtitles.

I hate dubbed films reminds me of the old bad kung fu films of the 70’s

Yeah, I think we actually agree - choice is cool. Forcing people is wrong.

I know that offering subtitled versions of English language film/TV is normal in Sweden (and in Denmark, Holland, Norway, etc…)

On the other hand, dubbed versions are entirely routine in France, Italy, Germany, etc. (In fact, I think there is a whole mini-industry around this?)

So I do think this has something to do with the size of the countries and the size of the markets. In smaller countries it’s maybe less commercially worthwhile producing dubbed versions?

They vary. German dubbed versions (from the last 20 years) are usually pretty good.

Here in South America it is very common that the movies and series are dubbed, which I think is the right thing to do, because otherwise the movies and series lose quality.
In regard to language learning, I think that movies are the worst approach to learn a language, so in that sense I think is a very bad idea.

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