Mola Ser Jefe (2001)

The second film revolves around incidents depicted in Manolito Gafotas, Pobre Manolito, ¡Cómo molo!, Los Trapos Sucios, Manolito on the road, Yo y el imbécil and Manolito tiene un secreto (García Merida, 228). The first thing that jumps out in this second film apart from the speed that it was created and the fact that Lindo was not happy with a release of a second film so close to the first one and had other issues in general with the production, it is that it is subtitled and dubbed, and that the dubbing uses a general Central American variety. The dubbing is low quality as it can be assumed that the film was not going to have a vast distribution in the English-speaking world and at times, it veers towards audio description more than actual voice acting. The purpose of this appendix is not to clearly define the boundaries between these two forms of AVT, but we wanted to make a note because investment placed on this form of translation tends to shape the quality of the final product.

  Sexual/Bodily References

Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
besucones none available It was a day for lots of kissing smootchies
¡cómo estás! feeling frisky You just can’t keep still


Pilila willy wiener
pupas en el culo


sore on your ass problems with allergies

First, there were no equivalents in Elvira Lindo’s text, which is something that differs significantly from the first film. There are differences between subtitles and dubbing but there are no consistencies found. They are riskier or more in line with the semantic field of the source text than the usual examples of sexual or bodily references in the translated literary series. It is perhaps important to mention that there is a scene in which the characters are naked in the bath (Manolito, el Imbécil and his dad). This evidences the censorship that precluded the need to cut Emilio Urberuaga’s illustration of the three Graces painting in the Prado Museum in the first translated book of the series. A much more graphic scene is allowed in a film format without alterations.

National/Cultural/Political References

Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
Gadafi none available Gadaffi stupid
gusanitos 12 pickles 12 worms
hasta que hagas la mili military service / soldier until you’re 18 army
Patata none available potato cheese
Pekín Beijing Pekin
Se hace el sueco a la hora de pagar It’s just sometimes she decides to wait (decide hacerse

la sueca)

They are Swedes, he plays neutral when it comes to pay He’s like the Swiss when it comes to paying
trincar none available nab him to lock someone up
Yihad Ozzy Yihad Ali

Some of these references appear in the translated books too. In this case, the dubbing seems to have tried to be closer to the source text, like in the translation of Pekín or gusanitos, sometimes, but others they changed the source text imagery towards a more dynamic equivalence (sueco, patata). Perhaps it is interesting to highlight the problematic nickname of Manolito’s bully, Yihad, which has acquired three completely different versions in the textual, subtitled and dubbed versions.

There is a scene in a Chinese restaurant that is full of cultural references that have been ignored or omitted in subtitled and dubbed versions. The speed at which the characters speak, and the speed of the conversation also makes it particularly challenging to try and convey the array of cultural references in every utterance.


Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
Bragas sucias The One and Only Susana

The one and only Susana Dirty Underpants

Dirty drawers Dirty panties
bribón none available rascal silly old scam

qué feo el canijo

The Bozo (only used to refer to el Imbécil) ugly squirts just look at him
capullo none available


dickhead dickhead
cenizo wet blanket kill joy
Ceporra his mother’s name butterball fat lady
chochona none available Kempiedoll silly doll
chulito de barrio The bully of my neighbourhood smart ass


cotillona none available gossip busybody
delincuentes delinquents/criminals delinquents delinquents
Gafotas Four Eyes (omitted) Four Eyes
gilipollas none available


idiot (omitted)
gorrón, gorronear scrounger, to scrounge sponge, to sponge off
imbécil The Bozo moron lunchbox
inútil y pringao genius (inútil) dumb fuckwit useless tidbit
lagartona none available horn head you
mala leche act really stinky wicked tongue to be so nasty
mocoso little guy tittle squirt snotface, snot
morro nerve a lot of cheek nerve
pijos none available stuck-up group of mamas
pijo de mierda shitface fartface
rareza/raro strange like that/weird guys odd sissy
tontolaba none available


(omitted) sobhead
tiene la cabeza como una jaula de grillos halfcracked cage of jumping jacks

One of the main sources of linguistic creativity in the Manolito series is the power of insults and offensive nicknames. The fact that there are many versions once more of every utterance in the source text indicates that English has the space for creativity in this realm.

 That is why it seems interesting to me to notice how many of them (chulito, gilipollas, Gafotas and tontolaba) end up omitted either in subtitles or dubbing. It is not sufficiently clear what the guidelines seem to be or the approach to render something superfluous and therefore omitted. Equally interesting are those cases in which the all the available translated versions agree (delincuentes, capullo).

maciza the best-looking girl knockout She has some legs, waist…

A positive instance of this creativity and cultural references is the example above that denotes a politically incorrect and outdated way to qualify a good-looking lady. The subtitle opted for the short equivalent, where the dubbed version ended up in a long-winded explanation of her physical traits that does not seem necessary and makes Manolito’s grandfather sound sleezier than he may be portrayed in the source text.

Physical violence

Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
atizar none available punch / hit hit
Colleja to chew someone out, lecture (or omitted) wallop whacking you at the back of your head, slap around
currar none available to thump To clubber
guantazo ,

menudo guantazo te has pegado

Te arreo un guantazo

none available I’ll belt you one (omitted)
wallop That was some fall you took
wallop I’ll give you a good club
machacar pulverize crush you, torture finish someone off
me los cargo


none available I’ll kill them all I’ll kill’em immediately
os la vais a cargar mess up, omitted You are for it You are gonna get it
Me zurreis none available To hit To beat me up
Pinchar To carve To stab
Repartir cates To slap/wallop punchline
Te ‘via’ dar I’m gonna thump you I’m gonna give you a…
Te mato I kill you I’m going to kill you

As explained in the article that this appendix complements, physical violence has been removed from the English translated texts. In an audiovisual context, without going into the reasons why it is more permitted for a children’s audience, it is not possible to remove it without carrying out a major edition of the film itself so there are many more instances of physical violence as well as a variety of verbs and expressions related to physical aggression that have been translated quite directly. However, In the middle of the film, there are a number of tales by the Norwegian character, taken presumably from Norwegian folklore, which include and expand gore descriptions with lots of blood and physical violence. These are generally summarized and purified in the dubbed and subtitled version, presumably because these two films are produced for a younger audience.


Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
Venga coño none available (omitted)


Coño, estamos en el dos mil
Joe macho cada día entiendo menos a mi hermano Shit, I understand my brother less every day. Jeepers
Nos ha jodio el metre That’s the maitre


who are you?
Joer The hell with it jeepers
Joer con lo que se queja mi madre de la factura de la luz And my mother complains about our electricity bill


Jeepers. my mother complains about our electricity bill
Jolines Flip! Bummer
Como si le llevamos al talego  none available (omitted) Slammer


(omitted) wow
puñetera friggin damned (lobster) stupid (lobster)

In terms of slang, once more the films have many more instances of this type of language, and they are mostly omitted or attenuated in both subtitles and dubbing. There is a scene in which the kids talk a lot about the advantages of being in prison with Yihad’s brother which has been translated quite directly in contrast with the several omissions of references to prison and AIDs in the textual translations.


Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
me llenó de babas slobber slobbered slobbered
Os vais a cagar none available You are going to get it (omitted)
cagoncete no va ahi They can’t just shit anywhere in the nativity They can’t just go to the bathroom in the nativity
el único que cagaba mierda The only guy who ever took a shit The only guy who ever pooped
Me cago en la leche (omitted) (omitted)
Y tiene diarrera  His stomach is playing up, diarrhera He has the runs
los gases gas gas gas
Qué meada ha echado to pee, to go to the bathroom, (omitted) piss how much wee


mearse la cama To wet the bed To wet his bed
Todo por la mierda del no way, (omitted) shit face fart face
Menuda mierda none available they’re sick Shit
pedetes Farts (pedo-pedete isn’t available) Raspberries, farts farts
Tropezón Stumbles Tropezón Tropezón (pronounced in American accent)

Elvira Lindo’s humour has been qualified as rather scatological for its own detriment. Leaving aside the fact that some cultures rely on scatology as a humorous mechanism more than others, and beyond any type of personal preference of translators or editors, the reality is that English, US English, has the same mechanisms available to create humour as the similarities between subtitles and dubbing in this film evidence. It is, however, interesting to point out that the name of the local bar ends up untranslated in both instances, even though the textual translations give us the option of ‘stumbles’, which leaves aside the reference to vomit in the source text but that may compensate with the comic effect by conveying at least one of the sides of the source text double entendre. It is interesting to notice on the fact that the dubbing also keeps an American Mid Atlantic accent when pronouncing some of the untranslated proper names or cultural references. Not being able to gauge the effect that this may have in the audience, it sounds strange for a native source language speaker and confusing for a bilingual child unfamiliar with both terms, the Spanish word, and its Americanized pronunciation.

Other colloquialisms from the films

I would like to finish this brief list of descriptive examples by offering a list of colloquialisms that contribute to the identity of some of the characters. Most are expressions that belong to the social group or age group of the character in question.

La voz de Manolito
Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
Sita Miss Miss (omitted)
Lo llevaban claro none available They would get a shock they wouldn’t bother us
Cómo mola he’s a whole lotta cool he’s neat he’s awesome
Mola ser jefe to be cool It’s cool to be boss It’s cool to be the boss

La voz de Catalina
Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
rajar (hablar)


none available Rabbit on How much she talks

La voz de la noruega
Source Text/Script Textual Translation Subtitles Dubbing
Reno (reina) none available quin (Omitted)
Neveros (neveras) none available icebergs regriferator
Uvos none available gropes grapes

The Norwegian character tends to make mistakes, like any additional language speaker. These pose interesting challengers to the translators which used their creativity to try and convey these errors, whereas in the textual versions some of the errors in Manolito’s Spanish were corrected and therefore diffused. Another unusual thing that happens in the speech of the Norwegian character is that she pronounces her US English rather well, despite the problems she has with Spanish pronunciation in the source film. She uses German or Norwegian words for some things, and they are simply conveyed in Spanish in the dubbing. She also uses English sometimes (i.e., sorry) and this is omitted. In this dubbed version, the family name García Moreno is pronounced in US English, but names like Sita and Manolo are kept the same. There does not seem to be a coherent approach to names as we can see in the dubbed version where Louise and Barnabys are the first name given to Luisa and Bernabé, the nosy neighbours.


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AVT in the English versions of the Manolito Gafotas Films Copyright © 2023 by Pilar Alderete Diez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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