June 17, 2021

'Roma', a movie in Spanish subtitled in Spanish | Culture

'Roma', a movie in Spanish subtitled in Spanish | Culture

Rome, of Alfonso Cuaron, started yesterday, like the rest of the films that participate in the voting for the Oscars, a career that could take him to his place in history. If he wins the statuette for the best film, it will be the first feature film that achieves it in a language other than English. Because the film-phenomenon of Alfonso Cuarón is shot in a mixture of Spanish and Mixtec. And in theaters (and on Netflix, platform streaming that produces it) can be seen subtitled in … Spanish of Spain. Was it necessary to label "angry" when a character says "get angry"? Do the spectators in Madrid know, without the need for subtitles, that when a Mexican fears that his boss will fire him, he expresses his suspicion that he is "going to run"?

Netflix's decision to provide viewers with a subtitle that is also a translation from one (Mexican) language to another (which is the same, and is spoken in the Peninsula) ignites a debate about Spanish as a common language. A debate in which the own Cuarón has it clear: "It is parochial, ignorant and offensive for the own Spaniards", explained the film director yesterday by electronic mail. "Something I enjoy the most is the color and texture of other accents. It's as if Almodóvar needs to be subtitled. "

Seven unreasonable similarities

"Your mother is going to be mad" is subtitled as "Your mother is going to get angry".
"What a slug you are" ("What a fool you are").
"Do not go to the shore" ("Do not go near the edge").
"Come!" ("Come!").
"And, besides, I want a smaller car" ("And I wanted a smaller car").
"I have to go check" ("I have to look").
"If it's really soft" ("It's quiet").

The Mexican writer based in Barcelona Jordi Soler expressed himself in that same line on Twitter after seeing the film in December at the Verdi cinemas in the Catalan capital (one of the five that projected it in Spain). "Rome is subtitled in Spanish peninsular, which is paternalistic, offensive and deeply provincial, "he wrote. Soler put examples, how to convert "you" in "you", or "mom (the height of ridicule) in mother". The straw that broke the camel's back was the "gansito" that one of the children in the movie asks for. In Mexico, it is the mark of a chocolate cupcake. But the written translation transformed it into "hooks". In Spain, that's an appetizer with the smell of cheese and orange color.

"It's not to understand the dialogues; is to colonize them, "Soler reiterated yesterday in a telephone conversation. Among the responses raised by his tweet could read: "I think there are idioms, localisms and other neologisms of Mexican culture that need to be contextualized," or "the diction is very different in our countries." Or, broadening the focus: "In Mexico they subtitle Spanish films in Mexican Spanish, they do not understand any accents."

'Roma' frame with subtitles in Latin American Spanish (top) and Spanish peninsular.enlarge photo
'Roma' frame with subtitles in Latin American Spanish (top) and Spanish peninsular.

This newspaper asked yesterday about this matter to Netflix, whose service streaming offers for Rome the double option of the subtitles in "Spanish" and "Latin American Spanish", but the company declined to comment.

Another viewer who found the labeling "unnecessary" in Rome was the general secretary of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language (ASALE), the Venezuelan Francisco Javier Pérez, spokesman for an entity that groups the 23 institutions that monitor the proper use of the language. "Has no sense. There are regional voices, colloquialisms, some of which are known and others are not, but in no case prevent us from understanding what we are seeing. Even you get to put subtitles equal to what is said, so the nonsense is double. In other occasions, the conjugation is affected (subtitular 'come' when it is said 'come'). The short circuits in the compression are very few ". Experts say that words also acquire meaning depending on their context. "It's a simple idea", concludes Pérez, "I hope there is no bad intention, but the important thing is that it does not create a precedent".

Language scholar Pedro Álvarez de Miranda says he called him "a lot of attention" when he saw the movie. "It's the first time I see that it translates into cinema from one modality of Spanish to another, because the subtitles translated what the characters said, they did not transcribe it." This philologist, expert in the history of the language, is against a measure that can "open a crack in the intercommunication between Spanish speakers". They are "peculiar" subtitles because you hear one thing that you understand perfectly, but you read a different one. It seems to me even a lack of confidence in the spectators and their ability to understand. "

Although the controversy over the subtitles of Cuarón's film is new, it's not that Latin American films are subtitled in Spain. In 2000, during the screening at the San Sebastian Festival of the Mexican The undoing of men, of Arturo Ripstein, the producer José María Morales noticed that the Spaniards did not laugh, but the foreigners who followed the subtitles in English, yes. The film won the Concha de Oro (with pardon for the Argentines) and Morales took it to the theaters subtitled.

In this richness of the shared language there is a book of imminent apparition, coordinated by the journalist Álex Grijelmo and the academic of the language José María Merino: 555 million we can read this book without translation (Taurus). In it, various specialists write about the strength of Spanish. The Mexican researcher Raúl Ávila, for example, writes that in the language "only 20 out of 10,000 graphic words are of non-general use".

In Mexico, Rome it is projected in theaters without subtitles (except the parts in Mixtec), informs Luis Pablo Beauregard. These are reserved for US production, especially. Mexico represents 65% of the dubbing done in Latin America, a market with 450 million consumers. From the distributor Amarok explain that, in relation to the cinema arrived from Spain, only subtitles are "fragments where it seems that the audio mix does not allow to hear well what is being said". So it happened with the box office Eight Basque surnamespartially subtitled. Currently, another pitch, Champions, by Javier Fesser (called there We are champions) is displayed without subtitles.


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