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Monday, December 20, 2010

Parla Italiano?

Did you know that, unlike in other countries where programs are offered in their original language version with subtitles, France dubs all of its programming? 
As a newcomer to France this was sheer torture!! Yes, Paris is beautiful. You walk for hours and hours and take in all the sights and sounds. But let's be honest. At the end of a long day trying to learn French you just want to zonk out in front of the lobotomizer and hear your native tongue.   
It took me a while to get used to watching "Friends" in French. Mercifully, it is still called "Friends". Can you imagine watching "Les Amis"???  Even worse were documentaries because you could hear the faint English voices behind the dubbing!! (Insert visual of English deprived foreigner seated dangerously close to the the television screen).
V.O. stands for version originale (versyon oreegeenal). These little letters that would appear in the myriad of small-type in movie listings were magical!   I soon started to seek out movie theaters offering movies in V.O. and cable programming offered in V.O. Of course you needed to know which buttons to push on your remote control to access the right menu. I think I got to watch 3 movies and 0 V.O. programs that first year.
Seven years later . . .  if you want to watch American TV here in France without making an investment (satellite, Slingbox, etc.) you have the following options :
  • Stream (don't download, it's illegal) your favorite programs on the internet.
  • Forget English, learn French. 
The good news is that you can get that high-speed internet PLUS free internet calls to a bazillion countries PLUS French, Chinese, Italian, Middle Eastern, Cambodian, Russian TV (notice what's missing?) for only 29.90 € with almost all of the major companies available here.

Of course, this lack of English programming has done wonders for English language learning in the country, but that's another subject for another day  . . .