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Movies in Foreign Languages


darkchild
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Has anyone noticed that when you watch a movie in a foreign language you do not understand and the movie is not subtitled; with focus and concentration, especially with intriguing movies, you tend to understand what's going on.

I grew up watching Indian movies and some were not subtitled but I did understand the movie. I have had similar experiences with French and Spanish movies too and eventually pick up some words that are emphasized.

Who else has been in this situation?

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I don't know if this has happened for me or not. Basically, I think what's happening in this situation that, as humans, we're reading the body language of the actors and picking up on the nuances of vocalizations to interpret situations that we might not otherwise understand. If you know what's happening, you certainly can clue into the non-vocalized methods of communication quite well. Most people today aren't as conscious of those cues. 

For me, it happens sometimes in Japanese movies when I'm not using subtitles. If I miss a word or statement, I think about how it was delivered and the circumstances surrounding dialogue or motions taking place. In that sense, I can glean what's going on. However, I think having some comprehension of the language aids in decoding the scenes. When I watch French movies without subtitles, I never know what's truly happening. And my inferences are usually wrong haha. 

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Yes, It happened to me several times. Because the scene sometimes shows clearly what the characters involved are up to and what everything is about. Is some kind of comprehension that decode the speaking and gestures thanks to the associative figures and context. These familiarized situations are the best to learn complicated grammar or vocabulary for your target language. 

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Yes, when I was going for French lessons, even during the very early stages of learning, I found I could sit there watching a movie and understand exactly what was going on. I guess it takes a few factors including context, body language and different situations to convey meaning, not just the actual words uttered. I found too, that I understood better watching without the English sub-titles because those are way too distracting! IDK if it happens to anyone e else, but I then start focusing on the sub-titles as opposed to following the movies. I don't actually know anyone who likes watching movies with sub-titles. i prefer to either watch the movie in a foreign language or one that's dubbed, even though the latter can be annoying when it's all out of sync LOL

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You can definitely understand the action and general plot of a movie, even if you don`t understand the language, but I don`t really like watching movies like that, because I loose you on certain plot points and don`t get the full experience.

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I love this phenomenon, and I actually find it very useful! I can usually keep track of what's going on in a movie or TV show even if I don't understand the language, and even get the gist of a line of dialogue just given the context and the way it's delivered, the body language and reactions of people around the speaker and what the camera's showing, etc.

But it gets even better when it's in a language that I'm in the early stages of learning, because then I find myself noticing specific words and getting excited about them. It's surprisingly fun to be watching a movie or show and suddenly hear a word you recognize, I always have this... "whoa, hey! I know that word! I know what they just said!" reaction. And I think that consuming a lot of media in the language that you're learning is a good way of "immersing" yourself in that language and helping your studies, so it's not just enjoyable, it's beneficial, too!

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  • 2 weeks later...

It is my understanding that a good actor will transmit what's going on even if you watch a movie without sound. Well, if you think about it for a very long time movies lacked any sound and people went to the movies anyway. The fact that you were able to understand the things that were going on is more of a testament to the talent of the actors and the filmmakers. This is a visual medium after all and not everything is told by using exposition trough the dialog.

I am pretty sure that if I were to hear something very dialog heavy like a court room drama in a foreign language there is no way for me to understand what's going on :lol:

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Yes, I have. Languages aren't completely isolated and develop along side one another. What does change a lot is pronunciation, but if you don't have anything to distract you and you know in which context the language is being used, you can derive a certain amount of understanding of what you are seeing.

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Yes! I can usually understand what's going on in a movie even if I'm seeing it for the first time in a language I'm not very familiar with. I find I can often pick up a few words, sentences or phrases this way too when it's really obvious what's going on. 

I find it's a lot more difficult to do this with cartoon type movies personally than I find with more real life type movies. I find that with cartoon movies it can be a bit basic sometimes which for me makes it more difficult to understand and I can end up losing concentration. I find that the genre overall does make a difference to whether or not I'll be able to understand more or less of what's being said too. I'd rather watch a comedy movie or a historical movie than an action or adventure movie. That being said though I prefer these types of movies in English too. 

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I think you can only guess what's going on by the scenes and facial expressions of the movie actors, but for understanding the EXACT meaning of what they are saying, then you ought to really hear what they are saying. I have downloaded a couple of movies that are dubbed in Hindi and it overlapped the original English language, and I never had the patience to sit through it.

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  • 1 month later...

I started learning English through watching cartoons only in English when growing up. Once we started with English in school I already had a base level of the language with a decent pronunciation. 

Occasionally I'll make the effort to watch a Spanish movie with Italian subtitles or an Italian movie with Dutch subtitles and mostly this happens when we have a foreign DVD at home with no alternative options 

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I've noticed this with Korean and Japanese dramas because of how expressive the actors are.  I usually watch without subtitles when videos are taking a long time to get translated.  I had done it so much that I could pick out words like 'I love you', 'sorry', and other small words.  It's probably this that encouraged me to take up learning Korean.

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