RSS Feed

Category Archives: Language in Music

What American English sounds like to non-English speakers

“Prisecolinensinenciousol, a parody by Adriano Celentano for the Italian TV programme Mileluci is sung entirely in gibberish designed to sound like American English. If you’ve ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like, this is it.”

When I taught English overseas, I found that using English songs with my students (especially younger ones) was often a good way to get them to pay attention, or at the very least, stop falling asleep in class.  Come to find out, though, they usually already thought they knew the words, and despite having the lyrics written and right in front of them, they’d unabashedly sing the more popular songs with their own made-up version much like in the above video.

When I started dating a non-English speaking man and went out with he and his friends, I was surprised again to see grown men and women dancing and singing their own gibberish versions of well-known English songs!!  I made the mistake once or twice of asking if they wanted me to teach them the lyrics (no thanks!).

Context over content? Looks like it. As long as it sounds kind of like the song, it’s not just good enough, but actually, it’s better. It’s certainly not the message that matters in this case, it’s the music.