German in televised sci-fi

Last night I started watching “Tribes of Europe”, a new sci-fi show on Netflix. It is 2074 and after a global blackout all of Europe has fractured into tiny states with completely different cultures and value models called “Tribes”. The show was produced in Germany with German as the source language. Sadly, this has also led to some weird language mixes that have started to really get on my nerves over the last couple of years.

Everything is somehow a weird mix of German and English which make the whole story telling feel awkward and forced. It even starts with a word that’s in the show’s title: “Tribes”. Why the German localisation didn’t just use the German word “Stämme” here is just beyond me. Sure, there are tons of words that really shouldn’t be translated as it would impede the whole flow of a dialog, but the same is IMO also true the other way around. If you have a perfectly serviceable word for a concept in the language the audio track is in, please use it! “Tribes of Europe” isn’t the only show that does this but it was the one I noticed it the most recently.

Something else that has completely rubbed me the wrong way was the language barrier billed around each tribe: During the first episode the audience gets to know one of these tribes in particular: the “Origines”. They live in the forests and focus on being close to nature. They speak German in the show but whenever they go even just a couple of kilometres outside of their village, they expect that everyone there primarily speaks English. Why? Does everyone on the whole continent all of a sudden speak English and only people in the forests know German and they feel kind of ashamed because of that?

I’ll still at least try to watch the rest of the show because I think the premise is quite interesting. Things like those two issues just really annoy me 🤨

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