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Fri Apr 23, 2021, 11:52 PM

What's up with Netflix dubbing every foreign-made series into English??

Sorry if this topic has been rehashed here already, but if so I haven't seen the threads.

We recently watched "The Valhalla Murders," another dark snowy noir series with grim-faced characters and brutal killings to solve, this one set in Iceland. With "Default" set as the language of choice on our Apple TV, the damn thing was dubbed into English! We use subtitles even on English-language shows, because dialogue is often hard to pick up these days. With this series, we often encountered hilarious but maddening discrepancies between dubbed English and the subtitles, for example reading "Goddamn that motherfucker to hell!" and hearing the voiceover actor say "Man!" or vice versa.


We like hearing the dialogue as spoken by the performers, because you get the emotional impact of skilled actors speaking their lines as the writer and director intended, instead of somebody sitting in a room with headphones reading an English translation (that's possibly inadequate). So it was an annoyance throughout that series, which we decided to put up with. Whenever possible, we choose to hear the original dialogue, whatever the language, and read the English subtitles. But Netflix caters to lazy Americans who can't be bothered with subtitles.

Anybody else struggle with this issue and have suggestions?

30 replies, 1119 views

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Reply What's up with Netflix dubbing every foreign-made series into English?? (Original post)
Pinback Apr 23 OP
sheshe2 Apr 24 #1
Pinback Apr 24 #15
cayugafalls Apr 24 #2
Pinback Apr 24 #16
cayugafalls Apr 25 #25
Pinback Apr 25 #26
intrepidity Apr 24 #3
Pinback Apr 24 #17
intrepidity Apr 24 #24
Demsrule86 Apr 28 #29
madaboutharry Apr 24 #4
Pinback Apr 24 #18
Bev54 Apr 24 #5
NoRethugFriends Apr 24 #6
Pinback Apr 24 #19
PoindexterOglethorpe Apr 24 #7
Pinback Apr 24 #20
fierywoman Apr 24 #8
Pinback Apr 24 #21
jimfields33 Apr 24 #9
Ohiya Apr 24 #10
Pinback Apr 24 #22
Demsrule86 Apr 28 #30
dameatball Apr 24 #11
soothsayer Apr 24 #13
dameatball Apr 24 #14
Scrivener7 Apr 24 #12
Pinback Apr 24 #23
nuxvomica Apr 25 #27
Pinback Apr 25 #28

Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:08 AM

1. It is not just foreign films.

You have a choice nothing or subtitles. Press English Original, no subtitles.

Found this a week or so ago. I am thrilled. I am hard of hearing and it helps me understand what is going on.

I love it.

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Response to sheshe2 (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 11:50 AM

15. Yep, we've gone to all subtitles all the time

-- helpful not only on foreign-language shows and movies but also on British series. And necessary for "Shetland."

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:11 AM

2. Change to the original language and English subs are added automatically. Do it all the time.

No need to get in a huff...lol.

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Response to cayugafalls (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:21 PM

16. When watching via the Apple TV Netflix app,

you have to make these choices in the device (Apple TV) settings, not at the app (Netflix) level. In practice this means that for one series, the Apple TV setting of "Default Language" means that Netflix will stream the program in the original language, while for another you'll hear it with dubbed English dialogue.

For example, the Icelandic series "Trapped" and the Finnish series "Deadwind" both played the dialogue in the original language, so we could hear the actors actually speaking as we read the English subtitles. But for "Lupin" (French series) and "The Valhalla Murders" (Icelandic series) the Netflix app interpreted "Default Language" for dialogue as English.

For "The Valhalla Murders," we were stuck with the dubbed English, because the Apple TV Netflix app has no way to choose language settings, and the Apple TV device setting doesn't include Icelandic as an audio choice for some reason. (I've since learned that the Netflix iOS app does include the option for original Icelandic dialogue for this series. Go figure!)

For "Lupin," I was able to change the language for spoken dialogue to French in the top-level Apple TV settings. But then when we started watching "The Money Heist" (Spanish series), the Apple TV's dialogue setting was still on French (and choosing "Default Language" on the Apple TV again gave us dialogue dubbed into English). So, after navigating up and down several levels in the settings a couple of times, we changed it to spoken Spanish dialogue, still with English subtitles.

Setting subtitles to English is not a problem. I just wish the Netflix Apple TV app had a setting for "Always use original language for dialogue." I was hoping that was what "Default" meant.

I know, First World Problems!

As noted above, the Netflix app on my phone does give me a choice to hear the dialogue in the original language (for example, The Valhalla Murders). So we may just stream from phone to Apple TV for those in the future.

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Response to Pinback (Reply #16)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 12:07 AM

25. Well, I thank you for your kind and extremely in depth reply. I see you took a lot in the thread.

Thank you again for the kind reply, I wish you all the best in your TV watching in the future.

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Response to cayugafalls (Reply #25)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 09:08 AM

26. You bet!

Technology is a great thing when it works as expected.

This experience reminds me why I donít envy people working in consumer technical support ó trying to solve many different problems every day for users with varied setups and different levels of expertise must be maddening.

Anyway, for this issue, Iíve managed to figure out some workarounds. And backatcha for your nice reply.

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:11 AM

3. There's usually a way to get it in the original language

Like, click on settings somewhere. It's the rare exception that doesn't have that option, in my experience.

But yes, that would drive me nuts. I also always have captions on and like the original language.

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Response to intrepidity (Reply #3)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:24 PM

17. Yep -- this works for some things on the Apple TV Netflix app, but not for others. (nt)

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Response to Pinback (Reply #17)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 03:28 PM

24. Ah, I see, it's a weird platform quirk

You alluded to one workaround, which would be to cast from your mobile device to the TV.

Or, just play on both, muted on TV, and use earbuds bluetoothed to the mobile for the original audio. Might be synching issues though, which will be just as irritating as dubbed!

Heh, first world problems indeed. I've seen (or begun) every show you mentioned, we share the same taste. Good stuff.

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Response to Pinback (Reply #17)

Wed Apr 28, 2021, 07:19 PM

29. I use Roku and we have all sorts of options...I dislike subtitles myself. And some of the

audio can be translated into English...I prefer that myself.

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:26 AM

4. There should be a heading called audio and subtitles

You can choose the language of the dialogue and subtitles.

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Response to madaboutharry (Reply #4)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:26 PM

18. Correct, not in the Netflix Apple TV app, but in the Apple TV settings. This has mixed results. (nt)

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:46 AM

5. I just find it amusing the difference between the dubbing and the subtitles

never really bothers me.

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 01:00 AM

6. I have no idea what you are talking about.

I watched it in Icelandic with English subtitles. You just have to choose that. As with almost all the Scandinavian shows.

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Response to NoRethugFriends (Reply #6)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:28 PM

19. What you describe is correct for the Netflix iOS app and website, and possibly for other platforms.

But not for the Apple TV Netflix app. As described in my other replies in this thread, we watched "Trapped" with Icelandic dialogue and English subtitles with no problem. But only dubbed English was available for "The Valhalla Murders." Odd.

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 01:39 AM

7. Are you sure?

I have not come up against movies being dubbed into English in years. I am always happy to listen to the original language and read the subtitles. Oh, and like a lot of people I use subtitles on almost everything I watch because my hearing isn't what it used to be, and it makes things vastly easier.

One of the things I like about listening to the original language, is seeing how much I can understand. My French is decent. I've also studied German, Spanish, and Italian. Other languages are fun just to hear the cognates in those languages.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #7)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:32 PM

20. Apparently it's just an issue with the Netflix app on the Apple TV.

Not a problem when watching Netflix on the computer or phone.

It is fun to hear the words and idioms in other languages -- and of course actual spoken dialogue is quite different from the student versions of languages I studied!

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 01:48 AM

8. In Florence, Italy, I watched Gone With the Wind dubbed into Italian ...

GWTW = Via Col Vento

Everyone had a more or less northern Italian accent -- except Mamey, who had a distinctly southern Italian accent.

Scarlett= Rosella

12 Oaks = Dodici Querci

"Frankly my dear..." = "Francamente cara, non mi importa niente."

I also watched a Woody Allen movie in Italian -- totally impossible.

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Response to fierywoman (Reply #8)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:36 PM

21. LOL, sounds like fun.

A friend once told me about watching an English-language comedy in a movie theater in another country. His laugh would boom throughout the theater a second or two before the rest of the audience read the translation and got the joke!

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 07:28 AM

9. Heck even Friends the tv show is dubbed by the language spoken in a particular country

Nothing new.

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 07:42 AM

10. Thanks for posting this.

I hate shows that are dubbed and refuse to watch them. But now, after reading this post and the helpful replies, I'll try changing the shows to their original language with subtitles.

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Response to Ohiya (Reply #10)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:38 PM

22. Whether you can do this depends on the platform you're using, as I've learned.

Netflix on the Apple TV requires a couple of extra steps sometimes. I wonder if Roku and other streaming devices have the same issue.

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Response to Ohiya (Reply #10)

Wed Apr 28, 2021, 07:21 PM

30. I most be the only person on this thread who likes dubbing and hates subtitles. Ah well takes

all kinds.

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 07:45 AM

11. I also prefer subtitles to dubbing, but what aggravates me is when the subtitles are hard to

distinguish from the background.

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Response to dameatball (Reply #11)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 10:00 AM

13. Netflix lets you do big yellow letters in a black box

You have to change settings on a pc though, not phone. It stays unless you change it.

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Response to soothsayer (Reply #13)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 11:04 AM

14. Cool. Thanks or the tip.

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 07:52 AM

12. I have the option to have it dubbed or in the original language with subtitles. Don't you?

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Response to Scrivener7 (Reply #12)

Sat Apr 24, 2021, 12:42 PM

23. When watching via the Apple TV Netflix app, the answer is "sometimes."

As noted in other replies in this thread, the Netflix app sometimes interprets the Apple TV setting of "Default" as "English Dialogue." In those cases, I have to choose the original language in the Apple TV device settings, if that language is available.

I guess if I were more adventurous, I'd watch Icelandic shows with Japanese dialogue and French subtitles!

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Response to Pinback (Original post)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 01:51 PM

27. IIRC, Netflix surveyed users once and found most preferred subtitles

Last edited Mon Apr 26, 2021, 12:56 PM - Edit history (1)

But when they analyzed actual usage data, they found an overwhelming preference for dubbing so they lean to dubbing. I prefer subtitles and often turn on close-captioning in English-language programs if the speakers are young or British because otherwise I don't get everything they're saying. What I find annoying about that is the captioning of lyrics for the pop songs some series and movies use to excess to pad a scene or give it the dramatic impact the filmmakers were somehow unable to do with their own theatrical tools.

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Response to nuxvomica (Reply #27)

Sun Apr 25, 2021, 02:59 PM

28. I imagine the captioning of song lyrics is for deaf viewers,

at least partially. But I know what you mean about it being obtrusive, especially when you're trying to visually distinguish between lyrics and dialogue.

For one series, though -- I think it was "Deadwind" -- the caption for the opening credits just said "Singing in Finnish" (or whatever language it was, if I'm thinking of a different series). I thought that was odd, since the same music was used for every episode and they'd translated all the dialogue for subtitles. It's too much trouble to translate the lyrics for the theme song?

The only logical explanations I can think of are: a) they settled on a theme song late in the game, after the rest of the post-production was finished; or b) the lyrics were too cheery or otherwise incongruous with the mood of the series.

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