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Buffy in alternate languages

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  • Buffy in alternate languages

    I caught some episodes in French and was struck by how the dialogue and voices were different. I think the French version is really well done, and the voices come close, but it's not the same and some episode titles entirely change the meaning, as do some changed bits of dialogue.

    Some of it's inevitable obviously. Did anyone first watch Buffy in another language? Did it affect your understanding of the dynamics and characters, when contrasted with the original?

    You can see the contrast in this game: matching French episode titles to the original English ones:-

    Seasons 1 to 7:

    https://www.sporcle.com/games/lizbsn...rench-season-1
    https://www.sporcle.com/games/lizbsn...&pid=a37412f2t
    https://www.sporcle.com/games/lizbsn...&pid=a37412f2t
    https://www.sporcle.com/games/lizbsn...&pid=a37412f2t
    https://www.sporcle.com/games/lizbsn...&pid=a37412f2t
    https://www.sporcle.com/games/lizbsn...&pid=a37412f2t
    https://www.sporcle.com/games/lizbsn...&pid=a37412f2t
    Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 03-06-19, 04:34 AM.
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  • #2
    I got 10 out of 12 on the first season ! The Canadian public school system did not fail me. Canadians are encouraged to be bilingual, more so now than when I was young. So I can read enough French to make some good guesses but I can't watch in any other languages. One of my 3 completed university in the French language and lived in France for a year and is fully bilingual. The other two did French immersion from grade 6 to 11 but dropped it in the final year and are not certified bilingual. Both of them dropped the grade 12 French immersion class because they needed a different credit for their university acceptance but are reasonably good in French, better than I ever was.


    “I like who I am when I’m with him. I like who we are together.”

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    • #3
      I adore the French version simply because they dubbed the songs in Once More With Feeling. I wish every other dub did that. It's nice to hear the songs in different languages.
      Made by Trickyboxes
      Halfrek gives Spike the curse that will change his entire life. Teenage Dirtbag

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      • #4
        I suppose if I'm honest, in complete English arrogance I just assumed people just watched it in English. I mean if they didn't understand any of it, wouldn't they just need to turn it up louder??

        In all seriousness, I truly haven't ever really considered this and how it could impact on perceptions of characters, but it's a really interesting point.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Stoney View Post
          I suppose if I'm honest, in complete English arrogance I just assumed people just watched it in English. I mean if they didn't understand any of it, wouldn't they just need to turn it up louder??

          In all seriousness, I truly haven't ever really considered this and how it could impact on perceptions of characters, but it's a really interesting point.
          It's not arrogance, the right way to watch shows and movies is in the original language - with subtitles, if you don't know the language.

          That's, fortunately, how they've always done it in my country. I don't understand why anyone does the dubbing. It's basically like taking the script and remaking the show with other actors, and then calling it the same show.

          Why does anyone do it? Do they assume that most people can't read?
          You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize it; the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along - that weird unbearable delight that's actual happy - I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get, 'cause it's here, and then...gone.

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          • #6
            I was being somewhat flippant because I do think English speakers have a tendency to just assume they don't need to try. But your point about the impact of dubbing with different people is why I think it is a fascinating idea that they would do this and my instinctive feeling is that it would have an impact on the connection to the characters. But so would reading subtitles. But I suppose if you are hearing the original recording you can at least hear the tone and pacing that the director would have wanted in the shoot. The kinds of things the actors will have been directed on that could greatly change the way a line/exchange/scene comes across. I mean, when they dub do the actors who are reading in a different language try to match the pace and tone of the original reading really closely??

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            • #7
              They changed Xander's name to 'Alex'. Some of the voices are a bit deeper/ fuller - Angel's voice definitely sounds a bit deeper, more gravelly, Buffy's voice sounds like it could be hers, it's beautiful but a little more full bodied (not in a bad way), Spike's comes close but also a bit deeper (and at points in OMWF he almost sounds like Gaston from Beauty and the Beast) - but still, it's close. Innocence is done beautifully. Some of the dialogue's meaning subtly shifts, some are direct shifts (in Touched he says "extraordinary woman" instead of "hell of a woman" and I prefer the original.) I would say they've tried to preserve the inflection/ tone/ timbre of the voices, but inevitably, it changes the meaning a little and I still prefer the original in certain ways.

              Although I have to say, OMWF sounds gorgeous in French.

              There's an interesting change to the episode titles. Some examples:

              Prophecy Girl becomes The Manuscript
              Passion becomes The Ball of Thesulah
              No Place Like Home becomes Enemy Sisters
              Something Blue becomes The Marriage of Buffy
              Real Me becomes Jealousy
              Into the Woods becomes By Love
              Crush becomes The Declaration
              Bargaining 1 and 2 changes to Chaos 1 and 2
              Smashed becomes Misconduct
              Seeing Red is Passion Red
              I Was Made to Love You becomes Heartache
              Life Serial becomes All Against Buffy
              All the Way is retitled The Kiss of Death
              The Gift changes to The Apocalypse
              Dead Things becomes Slave of the Senses
              Two to Go & Grave become All the Trouble of the World, parts 1 and 2
              Lessons is Redemption
              Beneath You is Interior Demons
              End of Days and Chosen change to The End of Time, parts 1 and 2
              Last edited by SpuffyGlitz; 03-06-19, 05:56 PM.
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              • #8
                That's such a shame. The episode titles are normally so great for multiple meanings against the ep.

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                • #9
                  If you want to check out how they sound, I think you can stream them for free on this site or any similar streaming website:

                  https://www.01streamingvf.co/serie-s...on-6/episode-7
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                  • #10
                    Stoney:

                    I do think English speakers have a tendency to just assume they don't need to try.
                    Yup - I agree. Enunciate clearly, loudly and slowly and the foreigners'll soon grasp it. Common sense init?

                    TimeTravellingBunny

                    It's not arrogance, the right way to watch shows and movies is in the original language - with subtitles, if you don't know the language.
                    I agree. I've got about 600 films not in English and I'd never dream of playing them dubbed. However, you'd be surprised how much (some) film students dislike subtitles.

                    SpuffyGlitz

                    Lessons is Redemption

                    That's just daft!
                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by TriBel View Post
                      Lessons is Redemption

                      That's just daft!
                      I really don't like that they do this. I mean all those ties between the script and the titles are just ditched. And that isn't insignificant or even just isolated to the single ep if you consider an example like The Gift. And another random example, the whole tease with Dawn in Real Me is whether or not she is this nefarious 'something' that has infiltrated Buffy's life. But really it's the start of her character exploration and that teen angst/sibling rivalry worry of comparison. But it goes so much beyond just jealousy and that notion of not being 'real' and not being seen that threads through Dawn's story really works with the emphasis on her sense of what is/isn't the 'real me' others disregard, alongside the double play for the ambiguity around her at that point. It feels a bit like they're just changing parts of the script to me to change the episode titles. I doubt they are selected casually.

                      I always start to feel self conscious when I start to feel outraged by such things. Am I just being an uber nerdy fan?? But I really don't think so on this.
                      Last edited by Stoney; 03-06-19, 06:10 PM.

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                      • #12
                        The problem with translating BtVS is that quite a bit of it is borderline impossible to translate. Remember that iconic We thought you were a myth/Well, you were myth-taken exchange? Or the title of the third episode Witch, not The Witch? Both of those puns work in English exclusively. A lot of Buffy-speak is like that too, you can translate what Buffy says but you can't translate how she says it because the way she twists the English language is enabled by its unique grammar.

                        There's also the cultural context. Something Blue, for instance, comes from a traditional American (is it also British?) saying: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe. It's not something people outside of the English-speaking world will understand so changing the title to The Marriage of Buffy is a necessity. Puns (Smashed) sayings (Two To Go) proverbs (No Place Like Home) and certain pop-culture references (Bring on the Night) generally cannot be translated verbatim so that's why, I think, the titles needed to be changed.
                        Last edited by a thing of evil; 07-06-19, 10:17 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Stoney:

                          I always start to feel self conscious when I start to feel outraged by such things. Am I just being an uber nerdy fan??
                          Yeah...you are!

                          No...you're not. It's one of the perils of translation - there not being a direct correlation of concepts across languages. I spend forever to explain terms such as unheimlich and heimat because they mean more in German than their English equivalent. I wonder how accent etc. conveys meaning? I used to teach De Sica's Ladri di biciclette and one year a student who'd lived in Rome explained that they were using a very thick working class accent. I'd never have known - I felt a bit robbed . (Plus the fact that it's Bicycle Thieves in the UK; The Bicycle Thief in the US - I mean WTF!). It also occurs to me that a lot of the significant stuff in Buffy is said as an aside (particularly in the later seasons) and a lot of sub-titling just carries the main thread. Then there's word puns...Sigh...it's a bloody minefield!

                          The thing with "Real Me" is, it doesn't just apply to Dawn. From what I can see they're all very poor. Smashed becomes Misconduct? Smashed is as much about the house as the couple; I Was Made to Love You becomes Heartache - misses out on "made" as built (constructed) or forced and also the inevitability / prophetic aspect of the phrase. Beneath You is Interior Demons - isn't too bad because some fans miss the point that it's a spatial metaphor that refers to an "interiority" as well as the actual hell mouth. However, it misses the reference to the processes that underpin the concept of "you" or subject/self.

                          a thing of evil:

                          "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a sixpence in your shoe". Yeah...we have it (6d is a pre-decimal British coin). I think you imported it from us!
                          Last edited by TriBel; 03-06-19, 08:43 PM.
                          sigpic

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                          • #14
                            Real Me and The Gift were just examples, the first two titles that I randomly picked out of the list. I have no doubt there would be something missing in all the options they chose because the titles were chosen for specific reasons, multiple ones.

                            I take your point ATOE that there is cultural context to some and sayings/proverbs etc. But the whole show has cultural context and that isn't being rescripted or reshot. The episode titles should have stayed as is I think and then it could have been something to find out about and draw meaning/understanding from. As you say, there's a degree to which this would be true across the show anyway and where multiple meanings are missed it would still be better than removing them.

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                            • #15
                              I think they did work on the French version in an official capacity with the original BtVS (and BtVS crew) in mind - I think they intended to respect the original. I've also seen Claire Guyot singing one of the OMWF songs beside Nick Brendon at a Buffy convention. Claire is a professional singer (she's the voice for Buffy) and her husband, Serge Faliu (the voice for Spike) is a professional singer too. I've seen Serge with James Marsters somewhere.

                              It's interesting that the title of the French version isn't Buffy the Vampire Slayer - it's Buffy Contre les Vampires (Buffy Against the Vampires) - I think there's inevitably going to be a different lexicon of meaning in French but I still hope the essence of the show is something they sought to preserve - even if conveyed through different cultural idioms. I wouldn't want liberties taken either, though I think there's a different set of idioms and a different cultural lexicon so an exact translation probably isn't always feasible in some cases, but I'm not thrilled with some of those titles either, so I see what you mean. Smashed is Ecarts de conduite, I Was Made to Love You is Chagrin d'amour. Some of the titles are even shifts in thematic focus - Passion becomes The Ball of Thesulah, for example.

                              Still, I'd *love* to hear you opinion on some of the voices!! Here are some links to the OMWF songs:
                              Under Your Spell:
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBlk...7hOAw2&index=3
                              I'll Never Tell:
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckXr...7hOAw2&index=4
                              Walk Through the Fire:
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVp6kJl9-q4
                              Rest in Peace:
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AvPrZe5nMI
                              Where Do We Go From Here:
                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUmX...hOAw2&index=12
                              .

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