09 October 2014

Dubbing vs Subtitles

There were 4 talks given in languages besides English at General Conference which I thought was a fairly large number since most of the talks in any Conference are given by native English speakers.  There are only a few slots per session that even could have been given in another language, so to have four wasn't bad at all.  But some people were disappointed that the talks were dubbed over in English.

While I would have loved to hear the talks in other languages and read subtitles, I think there are a lot of good reasons for dubbing other languages.  You can't switch back and forth from an audio to a visual broadcast. People need to know the broadcast will be entirely accessible. Not everyone listening to the English broadcast is able to read English; for example, they might be visually impaired.  It's also slower for most people to read subtitles than to listen especially if English isn't your native language (and some of those people might not be able to read English at all). An audio English broadcast needs to be entirely in audible English, just like an ASL broadcast needs to be entirely in ASL, and so on.

But in addition to all those practical reasons, I think it's good for English speakers to hear what everyone else is always dealing with because most everything in the church starts in English.  Yes, we have lots of translation now and we're getting much better at producing things in other languages and avoiding voice-overs, but it's still the reality for most members.  It is harder to listen.  It's disappointing that many members don't recognize the voice of the prophet (I know of a man who usually did the voice over for President Hinckley in French and people would recognize his voice as the prophet's when he traveled with other people and translated for them).  It's different to listen to a talk being read rather than given at the pulpit.  I think it's good for English-speaking members to experience that.

So even though I wished I could hear the talks, I think the voice-over is the best option for a lot of reasons.


  1. My husband and I had this same discussion yesterday. We also came to the accessibility conclusion. I think when it was live in the conference center, it was subtitled (obviously) but outside broadcasts were dubbed. It's still so exciting to hear a different language over the pulpit, though!

  2. Amen. I loved hearing them, even in the background, but also think they should be as accessible as possible (hence the dubbing). I love this change.