Starts With A Bang

Weekend Diversion: What English Sounds Like to Non-English Speakers

Adriano Celentano, on an album cover and live.

“So when the cat has got your tongue, there’s no need for dismay!
Just summon up this word and then you’ve got a lot to say!
Pick out those eighteen consonants and sixteen vowels as well,
And put them in an order which is very hard to spell…”
Supercalifragilisticexpialadocious, The Sherman Brothers

There’s something mysterious about foreign languages that we do not speak; the word barbarian comes from the ancient Greeks, who thought that the speech of the Medes and Persians sounded like “bar bar bar” to them. While we might be quick to dismiss such sounds as gibberish, Italian entertainer Adriano Celentano had another idea back in 1972, when he recorded his song Prisencolinensinainciusol. Deliberately written to sound like American English gibberish, but with no recognizable words (except the occasional “All Right”), this is definitely an entertaining way to spend four minutes on a Sunday.

Although it comes in many versions, the above is the most entertaining for me. And is it just me, or is anyone else watching this reminded of Edward James Olmos playing Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver?

Image credit: photo by Nick Leonard, mural by Hector Ponce.

However you spend it, have a great weekend!