2015.11.04 Hände Hoch!

My first experience with dubbing was John Wayne speaking German.

Later I saw Tootsie in a movie theater in Switzerland where the many languages made dubbing impossible. Instead half the screen was filled with German, French, Italian, and Romansh subtitles.

My daughter has just moved to Italy, and she told me that English crime series were dubbed into Italian.

I have serious issues with dubbing.

First, most dubbed movies are a pain to watch. The mouth and the words hardly ever align. And generally Italians use way more words to say what the English can express with a lifted eyebrow.

Second, if the language spoken has a lot of emotion - like Italian - and the facial expressions don't - like the English stiff upper lip - it is very confusing. Fear of clowns is very normal among children and adults alike, exactly because their smiling mouth and often crying eyes are deeply incongruent.

What does it tell Italians about the English that they show little facial emotion in a - judging from the voice - clearly emotional situation? Does it reinforce a stereotype about "cold" Brits?

Finally, what a waste of a chance to listen to and learn English - or Italian - or any other foreign language.

Although Danish television doesn't use dubbing and I have listened to English and American all my life, I reluctantly have to accept that I sound more like Nato's General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen than like Viggo Mortensen. I guess actors have a voice coach to get their accents correct.

With only 5.5 million people, Denmark is too small to use money on dubbing. A payoff has been that among non-English speaking OECD countries, Denmark has been found to have the highest proportion of the population able to come up with a passable English.

That doesn't necessarily mean that we are all fluent English speakers; it means that there are very few Danes who can't speak English at all.

Our lips and words are synchronized but, alas, most still sound somewhat like Anders Fogh...