Is Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex and the City” a man? Does Ugly Betty speak like a middle-aged, slightly bored and cynical man? Yes. And yes. If you are in Poland, that is. Let me explain.
I’ve been asked a few times – and heard people talk about – the fact that Polish TV airs foreign shows and films with two audio tracks simultaneously. And yes, it’s true. Polish TV hardly ever dubs anything. Whether it’s “Friends” or “Reservoir Dogs” or “Fawlty Towers”, you will almost always have a guy reading the script OVER the original version, which is still audible in the background. It’s a strange phenomenon, or a habit, I suppose, but one which very difficult to change.
Polish TV stations have tried – and failed – to introduce ‘proper’ dubbing or subtitling. Public TV once showed films in two versions on the same day – with a lector in prime time and in its original version (for the linguists among us) late at night.
The habit of having one lector reading the entire dialogue in a monotonous, indifferent or nonchalant voice comes from the Communist era and – like many other habits – is very hard to eradicate. Just like the British public cannot stand when the BBC tinkers with its weather maps, the Poles won’t accept Rachel, Phoebe and Monica from “Friends” with Polish, female voices; because you must realise that almost ALL shows have a male lector, apart from animal and nature documentaries which are voiced by a female lector.
Image © Grant Neufeld used under CC licence