There is a request for Disney + in Iceland: more Icelandic, please

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    REYKJAVYK, Iceland – Iceland, most parts of the world have embraced Disney’s popular streaming service, Disney +, since it arrived there late last year, with characters ranging from Mickey Mouse to Mulan now on demand in homes across the country. Are available.

    But there is a problem, the government says: no film or show is dubbed or subtitled in Iceland.

    The country’s education minister sent a letter of complaint this week to Bob Chapeck, chief executive of The Walt Disney Company, urging the company to cooperate in efforts to preserve the country’s language.

    “We work hard to maintain this, especially among children and young people who are exposed to other languages ​​on a daily basis, mainly English,” Lisa Alfredsdottir, the minister, wrote in the letter, Which was also posted on social media. She Note that, especially for children, it is important to have as much exposure to language as possible.

    Since then, the campaign has picked up steam, with many Icelanders asking to show their original tongue to add their voice. The move is part of a broader push to preserve the Icelandic language, a source of recognition and pride for many, that some fears are being alleviated by the widespread use of English.

    “I never experienced this strong reaction,” Alfredsdottir said in an interview after publishing his letter on Facebook. “People are clearly passionate about our language.”

    The Disney + service offers subtitles and audio dubs in 16 languages, according to its website, although availability varies by title. The company also says that it plans to add more languages ​​as the service becomes available in more countries.

    During this epidemic the service has gained momentum as people around the world spend more time at home. As of December, the company had reported around 87 million customers worldwide, after only a year of operation.

    And Icelandic has long acclaimed Disney characters, many of whom have been named in Iceland: Donald Duck is Andrés and Hai, and Winnie the Pooh Bangsman.

    Many of Disney’s classic films were also dubbed in Iceland when they were first released. But those versions are absent from Disney +, and people in the country want to know why.

    “I wonder why they don’t at least offer older editions,” said Thorinen Aldjaran, who has translated dozens of children’s books into Icelandic over his long career. “Either they think Iceland is too small and insignificant to bother with, or they assume that everyone understands English.”

    There is a version of the Icelandic Norse that has remained largely unchanged on the island nation since it was settled about 1,100 years ago. But many people worry about the future of language, spoken by only a few million people in an increasingly globalized world.

    Some protections have been implemented: local broadcasting regulations require foreign shows to be subtitled at all times. But this has not been extended to streaming services, and exceptions have been made for international sporting events.

    Among the children of the nation, English is being adopted at a rate that few people can imagine.

    The image
    Credit …Lucas Jackson / Reuters

    Schools have had to rethink their curriculum because many students can no longer read the medieval literature of the early inhabitants of Iceland fluently from the Sea of ​​Iceland, which is considered the basis of the language.

    And many Icelandicists have made the point that without the preservation of ancient Icelandic scripts and people’s ability to read them, some of the most famous tales of Norse mythology would have been lost. (This would mean that there is no foundation for the fascinating Marvel Thor series, which is streamed on Disney + and based on the Norse God of Thunder.)

    Now, some of the youngest children in the country speak English without an Icelandic accent, and their syntax is influenced by English when they communicate in Iceland.

    Evidence also suggests that the vocabulary of young Icelanders is shrinking and blending with English, particularly regarding technical terms. For example, some people know the English word civilization, but not necessarily the Icelandic equivalent (it is “seaming”).

    Nevertheless, researchers have documented the effects of globalization on Icelandic Language status still strong.

    Ms Alfredsdottir said she planned to follow up with foreign media companies, but declined to say whether the subtitles could face penalties for adding subtitles.

    “I believe we can appeal to mutual interests,” she said. “If Disney embraces Iceland, I’m sure people will reward it for membership.”

    Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Iceland’s absence has not been a deal breaker for other streaming services. Roughly speaking 70 percent of Icelandic households Netflix’s membership in the country, according to a 2020 Gallup poll – among the highest rates in the world – and its show mostly lacks Icelandic subtitles.

    But a professor in Iceland, Irikur Rögnaldson said, the impact of English on children, especially with Disney +, can be problematic.

    “Rognvaldsson said,” Disney films have catchy songs and phrases that children repeat.

    A lot depends on the duration of the exposure, he said, citing a large three-year study of 5,000 people aged 3 to 98, that he is with.

    He It also said that interactive use of English has more impact, such as when video game users chat with players from all over the world.

    “Many children are not good enough for their mother tongue,” he said. “And this is causing a range of learning difficulties.”

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