Back in the days when I was living in Mexico, I remember that during weekends I used to watch TV from time to time, mainly when I was at my grandmother’s house, and everyday at exactly 7pm all of us had to watch a Mexican telenovela.
But when I was at home, and because I didn’t have satellite TV, it was common to see foreign movies with full dubbing, or in the best possible scenario the movie was with the original language and just subtitles in Spanish.
Many people hated the movies when there was full dubbing as they didn’t sound ‘fine’ for them. They got annoyed when they couldn’t hear the original voice of the actors and they preferred not to watch the movie at all. For me it was funny to hear some people complaining about it, when their English level was so poor but they wanted to look ‘cool’ or ‘classy’… but that’s another story.
When I was younger I didn’t care too much about full dubbing or not. Honestly speaking, some movies or series are still in my mind with those Spanish voices that I heard when I was a kid, and now if I listen to them in the original language is super weird for me and, honestly speaking, I don’t like it.
My First Encounter with the Polish Lektor
When I moved to Poland I didn’t have a TV but when I went with my girlfriend to visit her family, I spent a few hours in front of the TV trying to catch some words in Polish. When I got bored I just looked for a foreign movie to at least understand something. After changing a few channels I finally found an old movie that I watched a few times in Mexico. But when I turned the volume up I couldn’t believe what I was hearing…!
I was extremely confused and I was trying to find a way to stop that voice that was overlapping the sound on the film. As I couldn’t it figure it out, I went to my girlfriend and I asked her for help: “Hey, Can you tell how to mute that horrible voice in the background”. She was confused and didn’t understand what I meant, so we went to the living room, and then she looked at me and she told me: “That’s just the lektor in the movies, you don’t have it in Mexico…?”. I was like wtf is that lektor, I changed to other channel and that voice was all over the TV channels, it was like a nightmare that was repeating in my head over and over again. I got annoyed and I turned off the TV.
So, What is the Polish Lektor?
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the lektor is also known as voice-over or dubbed-overand and it is a form of audiovisual translation. It doesn’t sound that bad right? BUT let me explain you what the typical Polish lektor is like: In 90% of the films I’ve watched on Polish TV, there is always the same voice of a male, around 50 years old, with absolutely no emotions. It doesn’t matter if there is a guy, a woman or a child speaking, or if it’s an action, romantic, horror or comedy movie, the voice of the lektor will always be the same.
The most annoying thing for me is that when you start listening to the original voice, and suddenly the voice of this guy starts to sound! My brain gets so confused and I can’t understand anything! Sometimes I just want to throw something at my TV! :P But I still believe that this might be one of the reasons of why it is so easy for Poles to learn foreign languages.
The goal to have this lektor in movies instead of full dubbing is that the voice of the lektor sounds neutral and prevents from distracting the viewers from the movie (it works the opposite for me). Polish lektors gained popularity during the communist times in Poland. Today, those lektors are with no doubt part of the Polish culture.
The reason that those lektors are still in business are mainly because TV producers can save a lot of money and a lot of time, because the main task of the lektor is just to read the scripts of a movie, and it can even be successfully done in just one day. That seems more convenient for business, mainly because it is way cheaper to pay just one person to use his voice, instead of paying several people for multiple voices.
Check the following scene of a film called: ‘Bad Boys 2’, here you can listen the Polish lektor in his best form. Please leave in the comments section if you understood something!
Foreigners Hate That Lektor Voice But Poles Love It
After my encounter with the Polish lektor, I was curious to see if more people, especially foreigners, found this voice annoying. So I went for a beer with a couple of International friends and I asked them: “Do you like to watch movies with the Polish lektor?” And the answer all of them gave me was: “Hell no, it’s horrible!”. So we were discussing for hours why Poles still had those lektors in movies. Till today, everytime I meet a foreigner that has been living in Poland for a while, I always repeat the same question, and so far none of the foreigners that I met in Poland has liked it at all.
When I wrote one of my most controversial articles on this blog called: The things I hate the most about Poland, many Poles wanted to kill me, and many of them wanted to do it because I was criticising those sacred voices.
But the story is different with Poles, when I ask them the same question, almost all of them say that it is something cool because they can hear the original voice of each actor, they grew up with it and they really like it. Also, one thing I noticed is that most of the Poles hate to watch movies or series with full dubbing.
The legendary movie of Rocky with Polish Lektor (please don’t hit your screen :P)
There are More than Just One Lektor
If you are surprised now and you just googled a couple of movie scenes with Polish lektor, you may be thinking: “WTF, it is always the same guy’s voice”. Well, believe it or not, there are many lektors in Poland that are recording movies, series or commercials right now. It is said that there are more than 100 lektors working in Poland.
The most famous Polish lektors that you might have heard are:
- Maciej Gudowski
- Tomasz Marzecki
- Radosław Popłonikowski
- Tomasz Knapik
- Jacek Mikołajczak
- Andrzej Ferenc
Lektors are also popular in countries like Russia or Lithuania, so I believe it is a real Eastern Europe thing.
Polish Lektor is One of the Weirdest Things about Poland for a Foreigner
My personal opinion about this Polish lektor is not good and I believe this won’t change in the future. I personally prefer to watch a movie in the original language and read subtitles. This is with no doubt one of the weirdest things about this country for a foreigner, I mean I know that I’m living in Poland right now and I should try to adapt to the culture of this country, but guys seriously speaking, the Polish lektor is too much! :P
I have a few questions for you that I hope you can answer:
- Do you like the Polish lektor?
- Do you prefer subtitles, full dubbing or lektor in movies?
- What is other cultural thing that shocked you in Poland?