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Why Doesn`t Univision Put English Subtitles on American Movies?
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July 14, 2008, 04:43 PM
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Many European readers have commented over the years on how watching television with subtitles helped them learn English.

Univision is the giant of Spanish-language broadcasting in the U.S. In 2006 it was sold by Republican Italian-American billionaire Jerry Perenchio to a consortium headed by Democratic Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban for $13.7 billion. Perenchio was the chief donor in 1998 to the campaign against Ron Unz`s Proposition 227 restricting bilingual education in California schools. The more Mexican immigrants who learn English, the worse it is for business. (Unz won easily, nonetheless).

Not surprisingly, according to Wikipedia, "Univision`s major programming is closed-captioned in Spanish, but unlike main competitor Telemundo, it almost never provides English subtitles." This refusal to run subtitles in English costs Univision a slight amount of ratings — I recall stumbling upon "Repo Man" dubbed into Spanish on Univision and watching about 40 minutes because I know much of the dialogue by heart. But, to Univision, the principle of keeping Spanish-only residents of America Spanish-only comes ahead of short-term profits. If they started putting "Repo man is always intense" in English under Harry Dean Stanton`s mug while some guy says it in Spanish, who knows, somebody somewhere might someday learn enough English to watch a different station.

There are numerous campaigns against corporations for anti-social practices, but I`ve never heard any criticism of Univision for refusing to subtitle English-language movies in English. Criticizing Perenchio and/or Saban for holding back the spread of English in the interests of higher profits would be racist, so it`s just not done.

Speaking of Univision`s lack of subtitles and learning another language, Bert Limbec explains "I Bet I Can Speak Spanish:"

Hello, amigos! El soy quando agunto! Ella balloona balunga espanyo!

Did that sound Spanish to you? I bet that means something. And guess what? I`ve never had one lesson. It`s just that I have a natural gift for Spanish. I was able to pick it up all by myself, "outside the system," if you will.

When I was a kid, I thought a foreign language would take a long time to learn. That`s what society tells you, probably because of the anti-foreign attitude in America. They`re trying to discourage people from going foreign, I guess...

I remember how, in high school, Spanish was taught by Mr. Gomez, and you could spend years learning every single word. Forget that! I`m sure I`ve got the gist of it. I don`t need any classes or books, because I can speak Spanish without all that. I mean, Â?Balunga el baguayo con blinko! Don`t tell me that didn`t sound Spanish! And it sure didn`t take three years of high school to learn. Forget that, I`ve got a life! ...

But another important link in the chain of me speaking Spanish is that I`ve been watching tons of Univision lately, and I completely understand what`s going on. Just yesterday, there was this soap opera on, called Ellabungo Juanita or something Spanish like that, and I was completely following it! This girl and this guy were in bed together, and this guy came in and was mad. Just from listening, I could tell that the girl in the bed was cheating on the guy who just walked in. There were no subtitles, I just figured it out! You folks reading this might have needed Spanish lessons to understand what was going on, but I`m on the fast track, Charlie!