For example, German and French is spoken a lot in Inglorious Basterds. In the German and French dubbed version of those films, what language would be spoken in those scenes?

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    I guess this might vary by movie and country. But usually in the dubbed German movies I see (including Inglourious Basterds) they just leave the German parts in German (though, still dubbed by the German speakers) and dub only the "major"/"original" language of the movie (i.e. the language the people the movie was primarily made for would also understand). So in Inglourious Basterds they dubbed the English parts into German, left the Germans speak German and the French still speak (subtitled) French, too. But I can't speak for a general standard or other countries' dubbing policies
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Oct 30, 2015 at 1:28
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    Honestly, I see it done differently depending on the production. Some translate only the stuff that's not in the viewer's native language, and others translate everything... which occasionally makes me laugh as the English subs aren't always the same as what the characters actually say, despite the fact it's the same language.
    – Catija
    Oct 30, 2015 at 2:21
  • A strange example for german dubbing is Scrubs or Malcom in the Middle. In some original Episodes (Elliot in Scrubs or Otto/Björn in Malcom in the Middle) is german spoken by some Characters. In the german dubbing they changed this to danish. I always wondered why they did this.
    – kl78
    Oct 30, 2015 at 8:19
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    @NapoleonWilson: For the Italian dub of Inglourious Basterds, they kept Bradd Pitt's voice when his character speaks Italian (sort of), which made for a contrast for the rest of the movie where he (dubbed) speak perfect Italian.
    – Flater
    Oct 30, 2015 at 12:50
  • In Ong Bak, they dub everything over with english, including when certain people speak English fairly clearly
    – Dpeif
    Oct 30, 2015 at 17:04

3 Answers 3


If a movie is made in German/French language and the dubbed version would be in, say, English, almost every spoken line will be in English. My experience from watching over 1K movies is that even if someone coughs in a movie, the coughing will be also be dubbed by the dubber.

But if a movie is primarily in English and there are some spoken parts in French/German, it usually depends on the studio and director. To preserve originality, they usually don't translate/dub the foreign language parts. Though, they do provide translation through caption, but not always. What I have seen is it more depends on how important that foreign dialogue part is. If it's important to the story and the film makers want the final viewers to understand that particular dialogue, they provide a translation through Caption or dub that part.

  • Have you seen the dub of "Life is Beautiful"? How did it handle the arrival of the soldier who speaks English--a language which was foreign to the protagonist?
    – supercat
    Dec 13, 2015 at 21:03
  • @supercat Sorry, I don't have that movie now and I don't remember it well. If I had, I would have surely helped with your question. But I remember that was a multilingual film.
    – Usernew
    Dec 21, 2015 at 14:01

I am french and experienced this issue while watching The Hateful Eight. I first watched it in english and laughed a lot when they made jokes in french, talking about Paris and things like that. Then later I watched it in French and it was really awful. They made the choice to convert these jokes into french but it was really a nonsense. No one was laughing because it was even hard to tell it was jokes.

Another example from Pulp Fiction in which they talk about fast-foods and little differences in Europe. Travolta says that we call a "quarter pounder with cheese" a "Royal with cheese". Once again, the joke was translated weirdly and Travolta says in french that we call a "quarter pounder" a "Royal with cheese". But the exact point of the dialogue is to say that we french don't even know what is a quarter pounder so the dialogue became a bit of a nonsense too.

Also, it is a bit off-topic, but I used to play a japanese game in which a mannered cooker was french and in the french version of this game this very character was italian. We french consider italians a bit like the world considers us, and they kind of used this to solve the problem.

Translators face a big issues when trying to solve this problem. Sometimes they speak the dubbed dialogue in the same langage but it really changes the meaning of the scene so I think they try to avoid to do this when they can.


Not a dubbed movie but a TV show. In LOST, Danielle Rousseau is the French woman in the original version but in the French version she's the German woman.



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