Learning Intermediate Spanish From DVDs Makes a Bit Futurama Uneven

If you are in school, you can pick up a language in class.  Of course you have that pressure of having to make the grades.

Not everyone is up to that, but if I remember right, everyone had to have a language in High School.  Some folks can’t pull it together to learn a second language.

I got out of High School and then learned a stack of languages, all for programming computers.  I still am learning some, but for the most part they tend to be a variation on a given theme.  All for the Web at some level.

Right now, I’m teaching myself Spanish.  Partly with TV and Partly with Computer Based Training.  Getting to a basic level of comprehension is not too tough.  There are some excellent websites out there to get you the basics.

The Apple Is Red.

The Socks are here.

What Is Your Question?

You can go pretty far with the basics.  Once you get past that, it does get more difficult.   Remember back to your own childhood and how you learned.  It was random words, then built basic constructs, and you got feedback on how badly you spoke.  Your family, friends, and neighbors would correct you and you would get better.

That may be the problem here.  I’m doing it in isolation.  I used Duolingo.com to get myself past the basics, listen to Spanish language radio and watch TV on my own.  After a while, the TV Programs get repetitive, so you change one series out for others, and move on.

I got bold. I started watching movies dubbed in Spanish, and always the Closed Captioning helped.  I am fairly dependent on closed captions.  When you are older, or merely an adult, you read better than you speak.  When you are younger, you speak better than you read.

Or so I have been told.

I got to the point where I was watching Plaza Sesamo, which is Spanish Sesame Street, and can quote dialogue on some of those sketches because I have seen them too many times.  It’s time to try other things.

One day I started looking at my DVD collection and wondered about some of the shows I liked watching.  Are They Dubbed?

It turns out that some of them are.  “Disponible es Español” it says.   Available in Spanish.

That’s it!  I was thinking about watching Futurama again, why not in Spanish?

Fry’s first glimpse of New New York

Futurama picture from wikipedia.com

Put in the disc, got to the menu, chose Spanish Language and Closed Captions in Spanish.  Play!

I watched as Fry was playing a Donkey Kong knock off in a Pizza Parlor in New York City on December 31, 1999 and quickly realized the problem.

Voices were wrong.  Not only wrong, but they didn’t match the closed captioning.

That’s kind of a problem folks!

I’ve seen Futurama a couple times through.  That first episode I probably saw as many as five or more times.   It isn’t that I am obsessed with it, I watched the series with my programmer at work during lunch.  My office was the one that had all the laughing coming from it because we’d be watching comedy TV while stuffing our faces.

Now, mind you, while English to Spanish translations are fairly faithful, each language has its quirks and a Literal Word By Word translation is never completely correct.  Idioms don’t always sound right when literally translated.

But…

This was just weird.  It was as if someone said “Lets mess with them”.

There are a number of ways to say one specific thing.  Something can be a plant or a bush or a shrub and they are all correct.  Add context and calling something a plant when it is obvious that a cactus is more appropriate became glaring.

Any given language has phrases where certain thoughts are said multiple ways.  The concept of truth can be said as “De Verdad” or “Claro” but translated slightly differently when brought back into English.

Whoever did Futurama did it wrong.  They had the script, chose the words, spoke the first set but used the closed captioning for the second.

Try reading along with that one on your own.

The other mind warp that happened?  The voices are just wrong.

Fry, Leela, and Bender on a buggy on the Moon

Futurama picture from wikipedia.com

Leela is a “standard New World Spanish” accent.  Not Spain Spanish, probably a Mexican Standard or perhaps Colombian.  In English, she’s got Katie Sagal’s voice, a fairly unaccented woman with a powerful voice.  Pleasant.  We like Leela, Leela’s a babe.

Ok, they got that right.  But…

Hermes went from being Jamaican to being Standard.

Fry went from a slight NYC accent to being Standard.

Bender went from being a thick working class NYC accent to being Standard.

Picking up on a trend there?

Yeah, it is like they scrubbed the entire “character” out of the voice character.

I guess it’s like when you go to another country for the first time and turn on the TV and watch I Love Lucy dubbed into French.  Ricky swearing in French just doesn’t have the same impact.

I’ll have to find I Love Lucy and see if I can understand Ricky’s swearing.  Might pick up a few words here and there!

I’m sure some of the dubbing on other series will be better.   After all, the kids shows I watch, plus the Nature Documentaries that I catch are all captioned correctly.  If the voice on the TV says a word, the text comes out correctly based on the spoken word.

That may be my problem.  The Crutch of Closed Captioning has reached its end of use.  I need to set it aside.

The last episode of Futurama I saw I watched in Spanish with English subs.  Easier, but I may as well watch it in full English.

I’ll leave the captions off instead.

Who knows, it may help me get better at things.  Until then I’ll stick with watching my DVDs in Spanish and annoying myself with bad captioning.

“En serio?”

“Sí”, it gives me an excuse to watch the stuff, right?

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