If you are a movie buff, you have surely noticed that some movies are not subtitled, the voices of the on-screen actors being replaced with those of different performers speaking a language different from that of the source text.
This kind of translation is not new, but has not been done professionally until recent years. In the ʼ80s or even earlier, dubbed movies were extremely popular in Romania and the trend continued in the ʼ90s, after the revolution. We all knew that the voice dubbing the screen actors belonged to Irina Margareta Nistor who would dub both the female and the male voices in the same movie. This obviously led to confusing and funny situations. Screen dubbing is however not an easy thing to do.
Unlike subtitling, which means the written translation of the dialogues, dubbing is the verbal translation of the dialogues. Dubbing does not mean interpreting, because in case of interpreting the speaker and the interpreter are two distinct persons speaking naturally, in their own voices. Dubbing means translating the dialogue and replacing the voice of each movie character with that of an actor. The latter must not only convey the sense by means of the translation, but also the tone of the voice, the circumstantial subtleties, any possible speech difficulties of the respective character, etc.
Dubbing is widely used in the movie industry, television, video games, cartoons and anime series distributed to foreign countries. In Europe, dubbing was already widespread in the ʼ70s, the 80s, and the ʼ90s, but in Romania it only became popular in the beginning of the ʼ90s. “Babe – A Little Pig Goes a Long Way” (1995) was the first film dubbed in Romanian, the voice recordings being made in London. Later, in 1998, “Mirada de mujer”, the first Mexican soap opera, was dubbed by the Mediavision studios.
Dubbing became widespread only towards the end of the 2000s, but only in cartoons which were shown both in their dubbed and subtitled versions.
In 2004, dubbing in Romanian was introduced on Cartoon Network, which triggered a negative reaction on the part of some English language teachers in Romania who said that children would thus be deprived of an important source of acquiring foreign language skills.
Dubbing is therefore not just a matter of translating a text, but also of interpreting its subtleties, all its nuances and unusual aspects, first by a translator and then by one or more voice actors.