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Great Moments in Gibberish

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
Yahoo Tech
March 7, 2014

Great Moments in Gibberish

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
Yahoo Tech
March 7, 2014

Fridays on Yahoo Tech, The New Old Thing brings you recommendations of distinctly untimely — but still amazing! — cultural expression. Lots of sources (including us) will tell you what’s new and worthwhile. But only The New Old Thing tells you what’s not-new, but great, and available to you right now thanks to the magic of technology. (Your tips are welcome; send to rwalkeryn@yahoo.com.)

Have you seen the recent YouTube video of the young woman who “speaks” convincing-sounding versions of multiple languages but is actually just spouting gibberish?

It’s super cool. And it reminded me of an absolutely sublime video featuring Italian singer Adriano Celentano. I wish I could remember how I first encountered it, a few years back, so I could offer full credit. But here’s the upshot: “Prisecolinensinenciousol, a parody by Adriano Celentano for the Italian TV programme Mileluci is sung entirely in gibberish designed to sound like American English.”

The clip is apparently from 1972 — and it’s totally, fantastically, delightfully ridiculous.

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.

Among the all-time-great masters of the form was Sid Caeser, who sadly passed away recently. What would he have made of smokahontas’ feat? I bet he’d be impressed.

Here he is talking about his own mastery of double talk:

And if you haven’t yet seen smokahontas’ new multi-“lingual” contribution to double-talk history, it’s below. Impressively, she does both UK and American versions of phony English.

Write to me at rwalkeryn@yahoo.com or find me on Twitter, @notrobwalker. The RSS feed for my columns and posts is right here.