Great moments in gibberish

Rob Walker's March 7 "New Old Thing" column is called "Great Moments in Gibberish." There are some good videos in the piece, including this one, called Prisecolinensinenciousol.

Prisecolinensinenciousol, a parody by Adriano Celentano for the Italian TV programme Mileluci is sung entirely in gibberish designed to sound like American English.

Both Celentano and the currently ascendant YouTuber known as smokahontas are (whether intentionally or not) riffing on the tradition of “double-talk” — a comedic use of nonsense syllables to mimic language that dates back at least to the Vaudeville era.

Great Moments in Gibberish

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  1. I'll never forget walking through a museum in Seoul with some of my American friends, and we came upon a large group of school kids, aged ten or so. A very large percentage of them started making some sort of low-pitched noise that I couldn't figure out, until I realized they were mimicking our language in the same way that American kids mimic Asian languages. The funniest thing was the sounds they made were the same sounds American people use to make fun of a "dumb" person. It was a really unique peak into how other people viewed us.

  2. snej says:

    All of the dialog in The Sims games is in "Simlish", a gibberish version of American English. The Sims 3 has radio stations that play pop music with the lyrics in Simlish, some of which are real pop songs with the vocals re-recorded by the original singers.

    I've always wondered if versions of The Sims localized into other languages include Simlish versions of that language.

    (Also, I just remembered that Rayman 2 — one of the greatest video games of all time, I'll have you know — had dialog in French-accented gibberish. One of the things that ruined later Rayman games for me was that they 'advanced' to intelligible dialog. Once you could understand what the characters were saying, it turned out to be really stupid.)

  3. A gibberish song many of us are familiar with is the ending theme song to the WKRP in Cincinnati sit-com. Originally it was supposed to be a test track to see if the producers liked the sound of the music, so gibberish was sung for the vocals. The producers liked it, and kept it.

  4. A gibberish song many of us are familiar with is the ending theme song to the WKRP in Cincinnati40 sit-com. Originally it was supposed to be a test track to see if the producers liked the sound of the music, so gibberish was sung for the vocals. The producers liked it, and kept it.

    That's hilarious! I had no idea.

    And while we're all on the subject, here's my favorite, Charlie Chaplin singing gibberish at the end of Modern Times:

    And it was also the first time his voice was heard in a movie.

  5. Speaking of Chaplin, his earliest Tramp films are now 100 years old. I thought they might impress the kids, but they weren't having any of it. "It doesn't have any words!"

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