Gibberish or nonsense is a fascinating exploration in how random sounds can seem to be actual language. Certainly the wonderful poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol is a unique combination of nonsense with English to create an intriguing result that seems to have genuine meaning but does not. See http://www.jabberwocky.com/carroll/jabber/jabberwocky.html for the poem.
A recent short experimental film, Skwerl by Sydney Kino, out of Australia combines English with nonsense cutups to create a beautiful scene that feels as if it is genuine communication based upon non-communicative words or sounds.
For many, this piece is a bit reminiscant of the song Prisencolinensinainciusol composed by Adriano Celentano, and performed by Celentano and his wife, singer/actress-turned-record producer Claudia Mori. The song itself is designed to sound like American English but actually is gibberish. Celentano wanted to created a song that meant nothing as he had previously created a number of songs with deeply meaningful issues at their heart. Of course, the meaning of the word prisencolinensinainciusol itself is that of universal love. Americans listening to the piece might wish to note that this is not too far off from how we sound to folks who don’t speak our language.
If you troll the internet you will come across a few “translations” of the song. They are not genuine but instead substitute real English words for the gibberish, Celanto’s method was not quite so simple.
This song reminds me a bit of the slurring of English in the classic Star Trek episode, The Omega Glory in which inhabitants on a planet slur the pronunciation of the first few words of the American Declaration of Independence to be:
norkohn forkohn perfectunun.
And . . . speaking of fun stuff, sometimes folks speak a language clearly and yet the listener hears a different language. On more occasions than I can number, I’ve had a taxi driver in Taipei become completely dumbfounded as I give him directions or a clerk at McDonald’s misunderstand my order because they expect to hear English from me – which they do not speak – so that when I speak Mandarin Chinese, they hear English gibberish rather than Chinese. While my pronunciation may have a bit of an accent, my pronunciation – with tones – is better than many and I’ve been told by others that the issue was not my pronunciation of particular tones but the comprehension of the listener. Granted, I also know that in more advanced contexts my language skills would not be up to snuff (but I can normally order a coke, french fries, and a hamburger without such extreme mis-communication).
Of course, sometimes folks just don’t have the language skills to comprehend a situation as demonstrated in this short clip featuring Simon Pegg:
I find that clip to be so very wonderfully funny.
All the best,