Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WNW: The English Ear

(Fun news at the end of the post; don't miss it!)

A couple of years ago, I posted a funky mind bender that messes with your head, or, rather, your ear. I talked about how, to understand language, your mind needs to know when one word ends and the next begins.

I used this pseudo-nursery rhyme as an example of messing that up so you can't figure out what's being said:

Maresy dotes'n dosey dotes'n littel amsy divie.

The answer to that one is in THIS POST.

After that, several people told me about the great game Mad Gab, which works off this same principle: one team reads a garbled (but famous) phrase off a card and tries to figure out what it really means. The person holding the card knows the meaning. And I can tell you, it's wild playing Mad Gab; as the person holding the card, you think your team has said the phrase, only they don't know what they said.

The other day, my friend Robison Wells posted a link on Twitter to something that reminded me of this concept but in a different way.

Here's a song from an Italian television show that's nothing but gibberish . . . but it's deliberately written to sound like English.

The freaky thing: it totally sounds like English.

I've watched it few times now, and it's always the same: my brain twists into pretzels trying to understand the lyrics. It's as if my mind recognizes the sounds and thinks the singers are really saying something . . . but they're not.

It's sheer brilliance. Enjoy!

Note: You can find a "subtitle" version on YouTube as well. I don't recommend watching it; it's not actually subtitles; it's what one person thinks the song sounds like, putting English words into the gibberish. To me, the so-called subtitles don't sound right.

You'll want to check out the newest writing podcast, specifically about middle-grade books. It's called Wordplay, and the three hosts are awesome: critique group member J. Scott Savage, James Dashner, and Nathan Bransford. (You read that right.)


Susan Anderson said...

The video you posted does have the subtitles, and you're right. it was more fun listening without looking at them.

Pretty cool!


Helena said...

Are you familiar with "Ladle Rat Rotten Hut"? That's an old family favorite.

Ooh, a podcast! I've been having a lot of fun listening to "Writing Excuses" (with Brandon Sanderson and team).

Annette Lyon said...

Whoops! Fixed the video!

J Scott Savage said...

Awesome as always, Annette. And thanks for mentioning the podcast.

Lara Neves said...

Cool video. That does mess with your brain! Because I think I understand some of it, but then I don't really....

Lara Neves said...

And we love Mad Gab at our house! It's hilarious!

Heffalump said...

Colbie Caillat has a song she does called Hoy Me Voy. It's a duet and the male singer sings his part in Spanish.
I don't speak spanish, so his lines are all pretty much gibberish to me. There is one line where he very passionately sings his part, and I swear it sounds like he is saying "I came in a speedo". It cracks me up every time.
He's really saying "Aqui me despido". I had to look it up.
I don't think I will ever be able to hear anything but what I originally heard there though.

LisAway said...

Man, I wish that would play in Europe! Oh well. This reminds me of how American's think some of the sounds in Polish and the consonant combinations (and scarcity of vowels) make the language impossible. For example the letter C says "ts", so "co" is pronounced "tso" and means "what". In English we pronounce those sounds in that order all the time (i.e. "That's so funny!"), but it feels weird when it's at the beginning of a word. Same with the szcz. It's pronounced shch and is the at the beginning and ending of MANY words. In English we often say those sounds together. (her rash changed for the better). Anyway, sort of a tangent. But great post on making a puzzle of simple written language. :)

Don said...

For some reason, that makes me think of the Swedish Chef. I guess it's the "mock English" vs "mock Swedish". Same general idea.

Bork bork bork.


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