Subtitle Hell: Spanish Version of #SOTU Is Hilariously Sad

Jan 20, 2015
10:07 PM

UPDATE, 11:15AM ET, January 21, 2015: The official White House video no longer contains subtitles, even though the Spanish video page still says that the video is a subtitled version in Spanish:


So, another night another State of the Union speech. This year, we decided to catch the Spanish version of President Obama’s speech, which clearly stated it was going to be subtitled and official. And we were so glad we did, because it was hilarious yet typical of how major American politicians and political parties still treat Spanish speakers in the United States: like second-class citizens.


Not only was the translation of the speech clunky at times (expected), but the subtitles, oh the subtitles. Any Spanish speaker who really was looking forward to watching this speech would have been greatly disappointed and confused. Want proof? Here is an actual clip from tonight with the actual subtitles flying past the video. If you were a Spanish speed reader, you might have understood it, when the translation actually made sense. We guess. Just watch. And laugh. Then shake your head and realize that when it comes to communicating in Spanish, neither Democrats or Republicans have gotten it.

Time to hire actual people who understand that communication must be authentic and thoughtful. It’s almost as if someone said, “Crap, just run the subtitles. It’s only Spanish.”

By the way, there is an official transcript in Spanish. The White House could have just shared that and called it a day. Avoid the more complicated attempt at subtitling a live speech. Instead, it clearly took more than it could handle with this one.

The truth hurts, but have no fear, maybe Democrats and Republicans can agree on one thing: both parties need to take Spanish 101 lessons again.