Dubbing is the process of adding voices to an audio track. It is commonly used in the film and television industries to make the characters speak English in a foreign film. This can be done as an alternative to subtitles, since many viewers find reading text to be more distracting than the dissonance of a voice not matching the movement of a person's lips.
Dubbing is usually serious, though it can have intended or unintended comic effects, such as in Hong Kong action movies (cf. Jackie Chan). Dubbing can also be used for parody, replacing the actual spoken words with other ones.
Dubbing in Europe
In some European countries, such as Spain, France, Germany, and Italy, foreign films are always dubbed into the local language, except for some theaters in large cities where original-language films with subtitles are shown. By contrast, other countries, like the Netherlands, Portugal, and Greece, subtitling is always used, except for children's movies, usually cartoons.
In Poland and Russia, a dubbing technique called the "voice-over translation" is used for foreign films on television. In this technique, the original language soundtrack of the film is unchanged, but the translated script is read by a single male voiceover artist, or lector, whose voice overlaps the original audio. He reads all the lines for all the parts, even for female characters. The majority of Poles prefer the lector technique over subtitling, which is used in theaters. Traditional dubbing, with a full cast, is used only for children's cartoons.