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Great Moments in Gibberish

Rob Walker
Tech Columnist
Yahoo Tech

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.

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