Reading Foreign Signs Out Loud

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When dubbing, since making the subtitles from translated works would need more people and money, a cheaper option is preferred: written text read aloud, including the main credits, since simply reading them was cheaper. These are called "Insertos" in Latin American dub lingo, where it's pretty much an Omnipresent Trope.

More often than not, the actor reading the "Insertos" also provides the voice of one of the main characters, reading the "Insertos" in his normal voice, or in-character if interacting with said object fits with the plot (reading a letter, holding a product, etc.). As you can imagine, this can be a bit annoying to people not familiar with it, but not in countries where it's common.

Since the arrival of new technology, making subtitles is something far easier. Nonetheless, this still goes on, either from force of habit or, perhaps, the assumption that Viewers are Morons who can't read and listen at the same time.

Variations include reading exactly what's on the signs and then translating it ("Escuela, that means school"), or making a comment while translating (instead of "hair tonic" is "Now, we will add some hair tonic").

Not to be confused with Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud.

Examples of Reading Foreign Signs Out Loud include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam and Mobile Fighter G Gundam both have characters read plot important "English" letters aloud. This is a good thing because the English in the letters is completely incomprehensible ("He is a a Char"). Sunrise eventually wised up, hired a translator (who also ensures all their Blu-rays come with good English subtitles) and Iron Blooded Orphans features an English letter (written on a person) that's actually completely comprehensible on its own, though it's still read for the non-English speakers in the audience and illiterate/semi-literate child soldiers in the cast.


  • Used in the English dub of The Millennium Trilogy films, probably necessitated by the story's heavy focus on people looking at computer screens. Occasionally backed up by on-screen subtitled translations as well.
  • Wayne's World has the "Gratuitous Sex Scene" with corresponding flashing subtitle. In English, Wayne conveniently says, "Excellent!" Conveniently because this can easily be replaced by a translation of the subtitle, and in German it is.

Live-Action TV

  • For some reason, the Disney Channel dubs do both subtitles and voice-over, making it redundant and annoying.
    • Many German DVD releases do the same, usually with different translations of the same sign.

Western Animation

  • From Mexico to the Latin American market, this was done by Humberto Velez, who provided the voice of Homer Simpson for 15 years in The Simpsons before leaving along with all the main cast for contractual disputes. Now, from all the people, the actor who does the voice of Carl does the reading.
    • In Germany, the signs in Simpsons episodes are very often read by the voice of Fry.
  • Also from Mexico, Jorge Arvizu, considered the Mexican Mel Blanc, would usually read these on old Merrie Melodies cartoons, more often than not adding some Gag Dub.
  • Thanks to Lucky Translation, this made a Running Gag in Sheep in The Big City (a little guy who likes to read, so whenever a sign appears on-screen he pops up and reads it out loud) many times funnier.
  • This is common practice in Polish dubs of foreign animation (such as Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry), usually with a separate actor solely for reading the Insertos.
  • This was extensively used for Looney Tunes in France, usually with a narrator voice but sometimes with a relevant character's voice (The Rabbit of Seville used Bugs Bunny's voice for jar labels and such).
  • Also very common in German dubs of animated works, but can even crop up in live-action works.
  • The Spanish dub of KaBlam! often has a narrator reading the title cards of the various shorts.
  • The Japanese dub of The Powerpuff Girls has the Narrator read most of the written text that appears. This works very naturally, since the Narrator is already a prominent character in the show.