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English Subtitles for Spanish Telenovelas

The Spanish-language television networks in Southern California are concentrated on attracting and expanding their Anglophone audience. With this challenge in mind, they rely on English subtitles for the most successful Latin American soap operas.

For many second- and third-generation Latino immigrants, English is not their secondary language, but their mother tongue. They understand Spanish, thanks to their parents or grandparents, but may not speak it. Others can no longer maintain a conversation with their grandparents in Spanish (or whatever the original language is, in the big picture).

Despite the disconnect with the language of Cervantes, some immigrants maintain their cultural roots intact and are interested in the most successful telenovelas of Latin American countries that are being shown more frequently in the United States.

According to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center, second- and third-generation Latinos account for 60% of the Latino population in the United States.

All of this results in a high interest of subtitling in English the most successful Latin telenovelas. The use of English subtitles on soap operas like ‘Más sabe el diablo’ and ‘Sin tetas no hay paradiso’ has increased the audience by including those who do not speak Spanish, but enjoy Hispanic telenovelas.

The other part of the argument, who does not think that this is something beneficial to the generations of Latinos, argues that this idea of attracting new viewers leads to a loss of skills of Spanish immigrants, and supports the argument with the explanation that the subtitles only stimulate passive learning.

Once again, the reality is taking place, regardless of the debate.

(Spanish version: