In the world of film and television, where stories are told on screens big and small, one often overlooked aspect is the transcription of dialogue. When it comes to transcribing non-native English speakers, there’s an art to preserving their unique voices and accents. This art form adds a layer of authenticity that resonates with audiences worldwide.
In the film “Babel,” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, the narrative weaves across different countries and languages. One of the storylines follows a Moroccan family, and their interactions are primarily in Arabic and Berber languages. When the characters speak English, their accents and language nuances are retained.
For instance, in one pivotal scene, the family’s young son, played by Boubker Ait El Caid, communicates with an American tourist in broken English. The exchange is emotionally charged, and the film preserves the boy’s unique pronunciation and grammatical errors. This choice deepens the character’s authenticity and highlights the challenges of cross-cultural communication.
Sense8″ (2015-2018): A Global Connection
The TV series “Sense8,” created by the Wachowskis, embraces diversity and interconnectedness. The show features characters from around the world, each speaking their native languages. When they share thoughts and experiences, their language barriers are transcended, offering viewers a unique perspective on communication.
The character iSun Bak, portrayed by Korean actress Doona Bae, aims to explore the path of breaking free from societal expectations. Born into a wealthy Seoul family, she faces gender discrimination and cultural pressures. Her journey takes her from Seoul to various parts of the world. Her accent, retained when she speaks English, serves as a constant reminder to the audience of her journey and the barriers she’s overcome, portraying the cultural complexity of her character. This is a clear example of how the show’s creators understand that Sun’s accent – and all the other international actors’ accents that appear on the show– doesn’t represent a linguistic imperfection but a vital part of their identities.
Transcribing non-native English speakers is a delicate art. It involves preserving their accents and language quirks while ensuring the audience can fully engage with the story. By doing so, filmmakers and showrunners bridge linguistic divides, fostering a deeper connection between characters and viewers.
So, the next time you’re engrossed in a film or TV show featuring characters from diverse linguistic backgrounds, pay attention to the subtleties of their speech. Those accents, those minor errors—they’re not mistakes; they’re the tapestry of authentic communication, woven into the very fabric of storytelling.