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American culture that warms my expat heart

I am not going mad.

It is 1:30 p.m. in the French speaking part of Switzerland.

My children are watching Cartoon Network France.

Tom and Jerry to be exact.

In English.

Just like my brother and I did as little kids.

It must be some sort of conspiracy to teach little French speaking kids English.

I love hearing the cartoon characters from my childhood talking in the voices I know so well.

Now, if they will just show Scooby-Doo (Scoubidou) in English I can prove once and for all that Sammy is not Sammy but Shaggy.

If I am really lucky I can skip Les Super Nanas and watch the Powerpuff Girls with my kids.

You’re probably thinking, “Why is she so excited about cartoons being in English?” After all, the cartoons are the same.

The language is all that is different.

So, it shouldn’t matter if the cartoons are in French or English.

My response is while the cartoons are visually the same you can never forget that culture is shaped by language.

It warms my American expat heart to watch my kids watching cartoons in American English.

The very same cartoons I grew up watching with the very same voices. It is a cultural bonding experience with my little American kiddies that I don’t get often living in Switzerland or at all while living in France.

Now, who is it that said Americans don’t have culture? :p

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • bleeding espresso March 13, 2008, 4:19 pm

    I don’t have kids yet, but when I see “our” cartoons in Italy, it really just isn’t the same without “our” voices and words…I hear you ;)

  • christina March 13, 2008, 4:30 pm

    When my kids were little we also had Cartoon Network in English (they have since encrypted so we no longer get it, unfortunately) and they learned SO much from it. There were so many different accents and tones of voice and they were really able to increase their vocabulary at an astounding rate. The cultural references were important as well. It was a great addition to what I was giving them as the only English speaker in their lives.

    So three cheers for cartoons in English. I miss Johnny Bravo. :-(

  • Pumpkin March 13, 2008, 6:22 pm

    Bleeding espresso, It is all about the attitude! The ‘way’ it is said. :)

    Christina, I know that my kids are going to miss out on “kid talk” that a mother can never do with her kids. I am happy when my oldest daughter visits us because she fills in the kids on all those sayings in English that only kids say. She teaches them songs and chants I forgot about. It is wonderful.

    I have recently found a ton of songs and mini cartoons on youtube.com. The kids love watching and singing along. We have been throwing in Spanish as well. It is amazing how quickly the kids are singing along even in Spanish. :)

    I hope that the cartoons in English continue. It’s great for my kids to make a connection to English other than through me.

    It is too bad that you can’t get Cartoon Network in English anylonger! We do watch cartoons on DVDs in English which is nice. We choice the language as English and then the kids watch it again in French.

  • Tanya March 13, 2008, 6:50 pm

    A little piece of home all the way over there! So, do you get Dora trying to teach the French kids spanish too, or is that just here?

  • Cathy Y. March 13, 2008, 7:05 pm

    Tanya – I can’t answer for Pumpkin, but we are in the States and our DVDs have a French language option, and in the French version, Dora teaches the kids English! So sometimes our little one watches Dora speaking English and teaching Spanish, and other times Dora speaking French and teaching English!

  • Pumpkin March 13, 2008, 9:05 pm

    Tanya, It is like Cathy stated. Dora l’exploratrice talks in French but teaches the kids English.

    My girls watched Dora ALOT while we were in the States so they know that she speaks English in the States and French over here. :)

    You can listen to a French version of Dora singing in French and then translating in English at the link below.


    Boots is Babouche in French meaning Arab slippers.
    Swiper is Chipeur which is French slang for someone that steals.

  • expatraveler March 13, 2008, 10:20 pm

    I just laugh at those dubbed voices. They are wrong and should be in English. You have every right to be so excited! It happened to me all of the time while living in Switzerland.

  • Tanya March 13, 2008, 11:43 pm

    LOL, that was so cute to hear Dora in French! I had no idea! Thanks :)

  • Cathy Y. March 14, 2008, 3:40 pm

    Pumpkin, thanks for clearing up for me what the names “Babouche” and “Chipeur” mean. :-)

  • Anne March 14, 2008, 7:18 pm

    If you go to youtube.com and type in Scooby Doo, they have several episodes that your children can watch, in English. They will hear that Shaggy is really Shaggy. Both my boys love Scooby Doo. My brothers and I hated the ones in the 70s when Scrappy Doo came along. We much preferred the original ones. Just like we prefer the Tom and Jerry episodes from the 40s, can tolerate them from the 60s and HATED the ones from the 70’s with computerized music and where they were “friends”. Way too sappy. We also have Dora DVDs in English, and one Dora DVD from France – my younger boy watches both. It is funny to hear the voices.
    Maybe the next time you’re in the states, you might be able to pick up some of the cartoons on dvd at Wal-mart or Target- they’re fairly cheap now (some around $5). If you burn a copy of them when you get home, it will lift the restriction and you can watch them on your dvd player. (if you don’t have a dvd burner, you’re stuck, though, to watching them on the computer)

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