chrome extensions to help you study a foreign language while you netflix
December 1, 2021 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Cool! Watching low-stakes American shows dubbed in French, or with French subtitles, is a habit I’ve been trying to build, as well as watching French shows/movies with French subtitles. This adds a lot to that!
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 10:28 AM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Oh, this is terrific. I've wanted this forever.
posted by Sterros at 10:56 AM on December 1, 2021

Subtitles are so fascinating when you speak both languages. The first screenshot in this article just says in Arabic "Don't be so sad", while the English is "Don't be so fucking mournful." Likewise, in the Lebanese movie Capernaum, a mother at one point yells at her daughter "Uskuti!"(اُسكُتي), a word that teachers regularly say to their students. But the subtitles read "Shut the fuck up!" In that case, though, the director is bilingual and presumably approved the subtitles feeling like they captured the spirit of the moment, if not the literal translation.
posted by Corduroy at 11:05 AM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've also used Narcos to try to brush up my mediocre Spanish, but don't come across many situations where "¿Dónde está mi chingada cocaína, cabron?" comes in handy. I know just enough Spanish to occasionally notice that the subtitles don't always match what the characters say.

Wagner Moura is excellent as Pablo Escobar in Narcos. He's also Brazilian, so he had to learn Spanish in about three months for the role. My Spanish isn't nearly good enough to distinguish accents, but apparently his accent is terrible to native Spanish speakers.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:22 AM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

I'm too lazy to look for examples, but I've noticed that even when captions and audio track are in the same language, the former isn't really an exact transcription of the latter.

Most of the time, it's close enough to be useful. But every now and then you'll find even after reading the subtitle and listening to the corresponding line multiple times, you still can't hear it. And sometimes that may be because you're not yet used to the phonetics, or to how sounds get elided in fast casual speech, but sometimes it's just because they're actually saying something quite different.
posted by bfields at 11:45 AM on December 1, 2021

Take it from someone whose domestic media ecosystem is basically subtitled in any number of languages: you shouldn't be looking for fidelity in the exact phrasing but the cadence of the language to get a sense of how the speakers in that language would think in similar-ish situations. I think Squid Games was the recent one in my mind where ppl had Opinions and i could tell when (I'm sorry to say) the opinionating comes from someone who doesn't have either Korean or English firmly in their fluency grasp.

In any multilingual society you'll hear this debate a lot - dunking on bad subs is a genuine sport. In our case, for decades the Malay ones were done from the same set of vendors based out of Hong Kong (since the distribution needs Chinese and English ones too) and their bad literal translation (because textbook Malay is one thing; also HK isn't the place to find that many Malay speakers) is the stuff of legends. So i know when a vernacular term or slang is translated poorly and when it's a matter of convenient swapping for timing or flow reasons.

My favourite moments at the cinema is tracking the subs and see whatever clever turn of phrase that doesn't translate literally but took the meaning beautifully in the way the language would have said it. And a local channel tends to have bilingual subs (in the same field of view IE not a different language stacked on another one) for the local dramas since those are heavily bilingual. I like those a lot but i can never recommend the same shows when it's streaming because those weren't hard coded or bundled together with the show for other broadcast.
posted by cendawanita at 5:42 PM on December 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

I have a Netflix profile that is set to watch things in French with English CC. I speak enough French to know none of the subtitles will match the spoken French but I find it curious how they translate humor or other idiomatic speech. Kimmy Schmidt is funny in any language and since she's basically a child I usually understand her. Jacqueline is much less clear.
posted by fiercekitten at 6:59 PM on December 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

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