Every year, Jehovah’s Witnesses produce several videos to present at their conventions. Most of those videos are filmed with English dialogue. So how do people who attend conventions in hundreds of languages other than English understand these presentations? In many of those languages, the videos are dubbed—that is, a new soundtrack with dialogue in the target language is added to the video. What effect do these dubbed videos have on attendees?
Reactions to Dubbed Videos
Consider the expressions of some non-Witnesses who attended conventions in Mexico and Central America:
“I not only understood the film but I almost felt that I was living it. It went straight to my heart.”—Popoluca-language convention attendee, Veracruz, Mexico.
“I felt as though I were in my hometown, chatting with a close friend. This was better than the movies because I understood everything.”—Nahuatl-language convention attendee, Nuevo León, Mexico.
“When I saw the videos in my language, I felt as if the characters were speaking to me personally.”—Chol-language convention attendee, Tabasco, Mexico.
“This organization is concerned with helping people learn in their own language. There is no other organization like it!”—Cakchiquel-language convention attendee, Sololá, Guatemala.
Since Jehovah’s Witnesses do not hire trained technicians or voice actors and they often record in remote and underdeveloped locations, how do they produce quality recordings?
“The Most Rewarding Work”
In a recent year, the Central America branch office of Jehovah’s Witnesses coordinated the dubbing of convention videos into Spanish and 38 indigenous languages. Some 2,500 volunteers assisted in this work. Technicians and local translation teams recorded the new soundtrack at the branch office, at remote translation offices, or at other locations using temporary studios. In all, the teams recorded at more than 20 locations in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Panama.
It required hard work and resourcefulness to set up temporary studios. Sound-isolation enclosures were created using whatever local materials were available—including blankets and mattresses.
Many who served as indigenous-language voice actors were of limited economic means and made great sacrifices to travel to the nearest recording studio. Some of them traveled 14 hours! In one case, a father and son walked for approximately eight hours to reach a studio.
Naomi grew up helping her family set up temporary recording studios. She recalls: “We always looked forward to the week when the recordings were made. My father worked tirelessly to coordinate matters. At times, my mother cooked to feed groups of 30 volunteers.” Naomi now volunteers at a translation office in Mexico. She says: “I am immensely happy to dedicate my time to helping people hear the Bible’s message in their native tongue. This is the most rewarding work I can imagine doing.”
Annual conventions of Jehovah’s Witnesses are held around the world and are open to the public. See the CONVENTIONS page for more information.