Non-English versions of The Simpsons
The animated TV show The Simpsons is an American English language animated sitcom which has been broadcast in the United States since 1989 on FOX. In other countries, the TV show started broadcasting later than 1989 either in its original version or in a dubbed version.
The show was finally dubbed into Arabic in September 2005, under the title "Al-Shamshoon" (Arabic: آل شمشون, translit. ʾĀl Shamshūn, lit. 'The Shamshoons'). In addition to being dubbed in Arabic (with subtitles provided for shots including written English, such as the chalkboards), references to alcohol, pork, and numerous other themes have been deleted or significantly modified. For instance, Homer drinks soda-pop instead of beer, eats beef sausages and hot dogs as opposed to pork, while shots of him eating bacon and pork rinds were removed entirely, eats ka'ak instead of donuts, and all references to Moe's Tavern were cut. References to Rabbi Krustofsky, Krusty the Clown's father, were removed as well. According to Richard Poplak of the CBC, an ex-Disney employee in Lebanon told him that, in Poplak's words, "if a TV station can help it, they’ll excise references to Judaism from shows meant for the pan-Arab market." Badih Fattouh, MBC 1's acquisitions and drama commissioner head, said, "You must understand that we did not simply dub, but we Arabized the concept, and we toned it down a bit. We toned [down] the language — we Arabized it in the cultural sense."
MBC 1, a company owned by Saudi Arabian sheiks, created the Arabic adaptation. Amr Hosny, a scriptwriter who frequently adapts works for the Arab world, served as the writer. The creative personalities behind Al-Shamshoun were Egyptian. The producers decided to adapt the "classic" episodes, beginning with Season 4, rather than starting with the original episodes. The characters were also given typical Arabic names such as Omar, Mona, Beesa and Badr for Homer, Marge, Lisa and Bart, respectively, as part of the retooling, while voices were provided by leading actors including Egyptian film star Mohamed Henedi as "Omar". Their hometown "Springfield" was called "Rabeea" (Arabic for spring) and made it look like an American town with a major Arab population. Poplak said, "Although Fattouh and MBC will give no figures, the licence fees from 20th Century Fox could not have been cheap."
About the original series, Hosny said, "I loved it. I take off my chapeau: they are very good artists. And the writers are unbelievable. I loved the character of Homer. There is something very strange about this character. It’s very close to the Egyptian point of view. He’s a very simple and kind person; from some points of view you feel that he’s incredibly stupid, and from some points of view you feel he is wise. Sometimes I felt I was talking about an Egyptian person. Nothing is certain and taken for granted — it’s not ipso facto — and this makes good art." Hosny said that the sheiks who owned MBC interfered in the creative process, making the show more edited and less comprehensible. For instance, Hosny wanted to make a "Little Arab Town" where it would be explained why there were many Arab people living in the middle of the United States. The sheiks rejected Hosny's suggestions. Poplak said, "Instead, Springfield remained, and there was no coherent explanation given as to why a full Arab community exists within the middle of Middle America." Hosny wanted Homer to drink she'er, a non-alcoholic malt drink, so dubbing would be easy. The sheiks insisted that Homer drink juice. Hosny also stated that he tried to underemphasize Waylon Smithers's homosexual attraction for Mr. Burns. Poplak said, "Through a steady process of cross-cultural attrition — no bacon sandwiches, no Moe’s Tavern, church becomes masjid (mosque) — The Simpsons was whittled down to a shadow of itself."
The show debuted after al-Iftar on October 4, 2005, the first night of Ramadan. The show overall had a poor reception. Fattouh said, "The show was not a big success. Otherwise, of course, we would have continued to do another season. I would say it was fairly received, but average. This made us reconsider." Poplak said, "That’s putting it mildly. MBC’s core viewers were baffled. From most accounts, the show was incoherent." The MBC show had a poor reception in the Saudi Arabian market, described by Poplak as "all-important." Cartoons in Saudi Arabia are perceived as being for children, and adults, puzzled at why cartoons were airing during the post-Iftar time, chose to watch other channels. Arabs who were fans of The Simpsons also had a negative reaction. As'ad AbuKhalil, a professor at California State University, Stanislaus and a blogger who operates the "The Angry Arab News Service," (Arabic: وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب) said that after he saw a promotional segment, "This is just beyond the pale[.]" and "It was just painful. ... The guy who played Homer Simpson was one of the most unfunny people I ever watched. Just drop the project, and air reruns of Tony Danza's show instead." Fattouh added "You see, culturally, it didn’t cross very well. Maybe the sense of humour is too North American. Comedy is especially a culturally sensitive matter. What you can define as funny is an outcome of learnings, habits, doings, local behaviour — it is the sum of so many factors. Drama is one thing, but with comedy, it is black and white. Deep inside, either you laugh or you say, ‘No, this is not funny.’ They did not think this was funny." As a result, only 34 of the 52 adapted episodes aired.
Poplak said, "It is a lesson in cross-cultural adaptation, and a warning of how delicate a powerful piece of television art like The Simpsons actually is."
The show in its unedited form currently airs on Fox Series with Arabic subtitles.
The Simpsons has been dubbed into the French language twice, once in the Canadian province of Quebec and again in France. The show is titled "Les Simpson" in both regions, following local orthography standards. The French audio on most Region 1 DVDs is the Quebec dub, although very early releases used the European French dub instead. It is one of only a handful of American television shows that have wholly separate versions in Quebec and France, and a number of studies have been made comparing them. In France all the characters speak standard French, with the exception of the ethnic minorities: Apu is given the Indian accent, while Carl, who has no accent in the English version, also speaks affected French. Kirk Van Houten is given a stereotypical Brussels accent, as "Van Houten" is a name which can be assumed to be Belgian. In the Quebec version, only the town élite, such as Principal Skinner and Reverend Lovejoy, speak with a French accent. The Simpson family and most of the townsfolk speak with a strong Quebec accent. In the Quebec version the ethnic minorities also have accents. Noticeably, Carl has the accent of a Black immigrant from Africa or the Caribbean.
Local idioms are occasionally adopted in place of direct translation. American cultural and political jokes are occasionally replaced with local references. For instance, a reference to Newt Gingrich in Quebec is generally replaced with one to Mike Harris. Most of the recurring characters keep their English names in each French version. Two exceptions are Sideshow Bob and Sideshow Mel, who are known as Tahiti Bob and Tahiti Mel in France, as the word sideshow has no direct translation. In Quebec, the title sideshow is kept as an Anglicism. Another exception is made for the Simpsons family's dog, Santa's Little Helper, who is called "Le p'tit renne au nez rouge" (the French name for the song Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which literally means "Little Red-Nosed Reindeer") in the Quebec version and "Petit Papa Noël" (name of a French Christmas song that literally means "Little Father Christmas") in the French one.
In addition, although the location and setting of the show are not changed in the Quebec dub (still takes place in the United States), many references to the characters watching American TV shows, movies, etc. are changed to references to Québécois ones. For example, a reference to Homer watching CSI: Miami in the original was changed to Fortier, a similar Québécois show. Although these changed references would be familiar to the French-Canadian viewer, in real life these would be awkward because almost all Québécois media is unknown in the USA. This is an example of localizing the humour for the Quebec market. In the episode "Lisa's Rival", Bart's mention of getting Millhouse Van Outen on America's Most Wanted, is simply changed for "on television". In addition, most instances of the word "English" are changed to "French". Due to this, in one episode where Homer visits Canada, the roles of anglophones and francophones are completely reversed, resulting in a stereotypical English Canadian speaking French and a stereotypical French Canadian speaking English. In another episode, English-Canadians were given stereotypical American accents speaking French, even when the main characters from the U.S.A. were not. The same practice is done in the Quebec dub of King of the Hill, done by the same company and many of the same actors, but to a greater extent: instead of taking place in Arlen, Texas, the show takes place in Sainte-Irène, Quebec, and many of the characters' names are changed. However, American and Texas flags along with pictures of Texas state (such as on the side of police cars) are not edited.
The episodes are dubbed by a team of voice actors, similar to the one that does the original. The team does about two episodes per day. In general these voice actors also do the characters who were voiced by celebrities in the American version. In the French version, on occasion, official dubbers are brought in. For instance, in the episode "The Springfield Files", where agents Mulder and Scully from The X-Files appear the voice actors who do their voices on the French version of the X-Files guest starred.
Up to a certain point, the animation of the show was not changed, and what is written in English appears in English, either subtitled in French or spoken by a character in French, in the two French versions. One important exception is the blackboard joke at the beginning of each episode. The Quebec and France versions share these French language blackboard scenes. However, for later episodes of the Quebec version, other text was changed as well, such as movie titles ("Cosmic Wars" became "La guerre de l'espace" [Space War] in the episode "Co-Dependent's Day").
In July 2007 Matt Groening said in an interview on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that the actor (Phillippe Peythieu) who does the voice of France French Homer says "T'oh!" instead of Homer's trademark "D'oh!". This comes from the actor misreading the line the first time he did Homer's voice and has been that way ever since. In the Parisian version of the show, many other catch phrases are also translated: Bart's "Eat my shorts" becomes "Va te faire shampouiner" ("Go shampoo yourself", similar to "go to hell"). When Homer tries to throttle Bart, his phrase "Why you little..." becomes "espèce de sale petit..." (literally "you dirty lil'..."). The France French version has also its popular catchphrases, to translate some terms that in the original versions are not catchphrases. Thereby, instead of "Oh my god!", Homer says "Ouh pinaise!", a deformation of "Oh punaise!" (Oh darn!), a watered-down form of the expletive "Oh putain!" (Oh damn!). "Oh pinaise!" is in French as much essential to characterize Homer as "D'oh" is in English. Homer is also unable to pronounce some terms like "bibliothèque" (library) and says "bibiliothèque". These catch phrases are translated in the Canadian French version as well: "Eat my shorts" becomes "mange la crotte" ("eat hell") while "Why you little..." becomes "mon p'tit verrat" ("you little brat").
Gérard Rinaldi, who replaced Michel Modo (who died in 2008 and who notably voiced Krusty, Chief Wiggum, Dr Hibbert or Principal Skinner), was himself replaced by Xavier Fagnon after his death in March 2012.
I Simpson have been aired in Italy since October 1, 1991. The main voices are by Tonino Accolla (Homer), Liù Bosisio (Marge), Ilaria Stagni (Bart), Monica Ward (Lisa). The animation of the show is changed: whenever something written in English appears on screen, the Italian version superimposes the translated phrase. In the initial blackboard scene, Bart reads the phrase translated but the blackboard itself still shows the English words. While all of the character names remain in English, some have been modified, possibly to be easier to understand and recognize as a name to the audience: most notably, Moe became Boe (and all shots of his bar's sign are graphically modified accordingly), Edna Krabappel is named Caprapall, Chief Wiggum is Commissario Winchester and Itchy and Scratchy are replaced by Grattachecca e Fichetto (the first refers to a typical granita sold in Rome. Fichetto is a person who wants to be cool or anyway is cool but not in an exaggerated way). All characters having roles in their name (Principal Skinner, Chief Wiggum, Groundskeeper Willie, etc.) or English words (Fat Tony) have received literal translation for their title, with Sideshow (Mel and Bob) becoming Telespalla (the word did not exist in Italian before the show, but it is a good translation since spalla is the role of a sideshow). Many characters are dubbed with strong local accents: Wiggum, Lou and Marvin Monroe talk like men from Naples, Eddie talks like someone from Bari, Carl with a Venice accent, Reverend Lovejoy is a Calabrian, Snake Jailbird and Lionel Hutz speak with Rome accent, Otto Mann a Milanese, Fat Tony - obviously - a Sicilian, Willie is a Sardinian. In November 2012, Liù Bosisio and Ilaria Stagni, were replaced by Sonia Scotti (Marge), and Gaia Bolognesi (Bart). Like the French and Spanish version, real and fictional characters conserve their frequent Italian voice, for example in the episode Any Given Sundance, Woody Allen (voiced by Hank Azaria), was dubbed by his Italian voice Oreste Lionello who did the last dub of his career, in fact he died a week after the Italian airing. A lot of characters are voiced by guest stars, like the ex-minister Ignazio La Russa who voiced Garth, the sugar industrie manager, the politician Alessandra Mussolini as Marge's friend Tammy, the journalists Serena Dandini as Snake's girlfriend Gloria and Emilio Fede as John Stewart, the football player Francesco Totti and his wife, the showgirl Ilary Blasi as Buck Mitchell and Tabitha Vixx, the showgirl Valeria Marini as Mindy Simmons, Maria Grazia Cucinotta as in the original version is Francesca, sideshow Bob's wife. On July 14, 2013 Tonino Accolla died and on November 14, 2013 he was replaced by Massimo Lopez.
The Simpsons was first broadcast in Luxembourgish in September 2011 on RTL Luxembourg, after many years of being able to watch the show in the more widely spoken French language on French TV. The show is titled D' Simpsons, an abbreviation for De Simpsons.
Like the French version, mentions of American culture are often not mentioned such as TV shows not known internationally, while the episodes appear uncut and broadcast in full with the end credits intact. The start sequence sees an onscreen subtitle for the chalk board gags.
This version came about after many fans in Luxembourg protested for such a version, although the movie is only available in French and German at present (two of the three official languages of the country). RTL's screening of the show is sponsored by Luxembourg Post.
The Simpsons is dubbed into the Spanish language twice, once in Spain, and again in Mexico targeted to all Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas. In both versions, the show is named Los Simpson, as last names are pluralized in Spanish using the article rather than the -s suffix (although is not uncommon for people write "Los Simpsons"). There are many differences between the two versions, as there are differences between the Spanish spoken in Spain and in Hispanic America. In Hispanic America, Homer is translated as Homero Simpson, but in Spain it is not translated. Other translations in Hispanic America are: Barney Gumble as Barney Gómez, Chief Wiggum as Jefe Gorgory, Ralph Wiggum as Ralf/Rafa Gorgory, Reverend Lovejoy as Reverendo Alegría and Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby as Alcalde Diamante. Itchy and Scratchy are translated in the two versions: Tommy y Daly for Hispanic America, and Rasca y Pica for Spain (however, "Pica" and "Rasca" literally translate as "It itches" and "It scratches" so it is the most accurate translation). Sideshow Bob is Bob Patiño in Hispanic America, and Actor secundario Bob in Spain.
The animation of the show is not changed, and what is written in English remains in English in the Spanish versions. In the blackboard scene, Bart reads the phrase translated. After the introduction, in the Hispanic American version the Spanish name of the episode is spoken by Homer, while in the Spanish version, it appears subtitled. Texts within the show are usually voiced by a narrator in the Hispanic American version, while they are subtitled in Spain. The region 1 DVDs include the Hispanic American audio.
Several fans of the series and the rest of the Spanish cast were devastated after the death of Carlos Revilla due to his fame as Homer Simpson, and Antena 3 had to find a substitute for Revilla's voice (as opposed to Dan Castellaneta's). Revilla also dubbed the appearance of KITT in the episode The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace, like he did in Knight Rider. There are other characters that conserve their frequent voice in Spain: like Mulder and Scully from The X-Files, or Sideshow Bob and his brother Cecil. They are dubbed by the same actors who dub Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce in Frasier. (With Cecil this only occurs in his first appearance).
The Simpsons was first dubbed in Mexico in 1990. The first dubbing studio selected was Audiomaster 3000; in Mexico City. In the list of voice actors chosen was Humberto Vélez, a recognized voice actor; besides dubbing Homer Simpson, Vélez was the narrator and translator in the series. The series was adapted to including words and expressions not only Mexican, but of the Americas; such as Chile, Argentina, among anothers. In January 2005, the National Association of Actors opposed a proposal from Grabaciones y Doblajes Internationales (later New Art Dub), the dubbing studio responsible for producing the Hispanic American version, to allow hiring of non-trade actors. That April, Vélez announced his departure from The Simpsons. In July, the entire cast was permanently replaced with new actors.
The Spanish version of the Simpsons also distinguishes itself by using more literal translations of what the characters are saying, while in the Mexican version, it is common to hear local jokes or expressions, as well as references to Latin American pop-culture. For the Hispanic American version; the local jokes, expressions and words were deleted after the actors' strike, becoming more neutral. The Spanish translation would most likely seem very salacious to a Hispanic American audience, and vice versa. In both versions the guest stars are always voiced by that actor's particular Spanish voice counterpart. In this way if the Spanish public is expecting to hear Glenn Close they actually hear the voice they usually equate to that actress.
The Simpsons are dubbed into Portuguese for Brazil by Audio News studio in Rio de Janeiro. The voices for Homer / Abe is Carlos Alberto, Marge is Selma Lopes, Lisa is voiced by Flavia Saddy and Bart is voiced by Rodrigo Antas. The names of some characters change in Portuguese. The character Gil, his name is pronounced Jil, Snowball is called Bola de Neve, and Santa's Little Helper is called Ajudante do Papai Noel. Kwik E 'Mart, the first season is Mercadinho. Homer's friend Lenny is voiced by Mario Filho has a typical accent of northeastern Brazilian.
In 2006, The Simpsons, along with other shows such as Pokémon, SpongeBob SquarePants and Mickey Mouse cartoons, were banned from being aired during primetime (5:00 to 8:00 PM) in China. This was done so that Chinese cartoons, which were having a hard time competing with foreign cartoons, would gain more viewers. The government had previously tried several things, such as ordering that networks cut down on the number of foreign animated series being aired in 2000 and in 2004, passed a rule that would ensure that 60 percent of cartoon content came from Chinese studios. The move was heavily criticized by Chinese media. The Simpsons Movie, however, has been dubbed into Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese. The show currently airs in Mandarin with some edits. Episodes are typically broadcast 2-3 weeks after the original airdate in the US.
The Simpsons appeared for the first time on Swedish television on November 29, 1990. The series was originally broadcast on TV3 in English with Swedish subtitles. However, in 1993, the network decided to start dub The Simpsons to increase ratings, and the show was moved to a more child-friendly time. After a public outrage the dubbing was dropped after only six episodes and the show was moved to a more adult time. Bart was voiced by Annica Smedius and Homer by Per Sandborgh. A dub of the movie was released with The Simpsons Movie DVD, with Annica Smedius providing the voice for Bart once again.
The Simpsons appeared for the first time in Hungary, in Hungarian language on TV3 in September 14, 1998. The series was one of the most popular shows on TV3, but after this channel closed in February 21, 2000 Viasat 3 started to broadcast new episodes starting with Season 6 from September 29, 2001. In January, 2008 Viasat 3 stopped to broadcast The Simpsons, and its sister channel, Viasat 6 (then TV6) started to air reruns. On September 29, 2008 Viasat 6 also started to air new episodes. On August 30, 2013 Viasat 6 broadcast the season finale of Season 24. On February 4, 2014, the Hungarian version of Fox launched, and from Season 25 Fox broadcasts new episodes of The Simpsons in Hungary on Fridays. Currently the episodes are available in Hungarian after two weeks from the original broadcast.
The Simpsons (द सिम्पसन्स) has aired on Fox India and FX India, in English and dubbed into the Hindi language. Chetan Shashital provides the voice for Homer Simpson in the Hindi dub of the TV series, while during talks of a Hindi dub of The Simpsons Movie, the producers of the planned Hindi dub wanted to choose Boman Irani to voice Homer instead, but that project never came through.
The Simpsons was dubbed for the first time in Punjabi and aired on Geo TV in Pakistan. The name of the localised Punjabi version is Tedi Sim Sim (Punjabi: ٹڈی سم سم). All references to drugs, drinking and sex have been removed. It is one of the most popular shows that airs on Geo TV. The original English version also airs but on STAR World. Both of the versions are quite popular.
The show arrived to South Korea on January 9, 1995 on MBC and the second season on July 1, 1995. Homer was dubbed by Han Song-Pae. Due to disparate cultural differences, MBC pulled the show from their schedule. In 2002, EBS and Tooniverse acquired the show with individual dubs for each channel.
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- D'oh! Arabized Simpsons Aren't Getting Many Laughs THE WALL STREET JOURNAL – an article about the negative response the Arabic adaptation received among longtime Simpsons fans in the Arabic regions.
- Homer’s odyssey: Why The Simpsons flopped in the Middle East – an article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation regarding the failure of the Arabised version of the show.
- Details about the dubbed version in Pakistan.
- An in depth essay about the Italian dubbed version.