What does English sound like to foreign ears?

We’ve all heard examples of fake Chinese or German from speakers who lack familiarity with either language. While typically cringe-worthy, these examples do raise interesting questions regarding our own language. What does English sound like to non-English speakers? After more than 40 years, Adriano Celentano’s “Prisencolinensinainciusol” remains one of the most illuminating examples. 

The entire song is nonsense verse, neither English nor Italian, but the sounds are meant to resemble English. Linguist Mark Liberman wrote an interesting post about this sort of thing over at Language Log discussing yaourter, the French word for an attempt to speak or sing in a foreign language that one doesn’t know all that well. This often involves trying to sing a foreign song with nonsense or random words filling in the blanks. Liberman shares this wonderful quote from a random Internet user:

Just for the story, in France, when we don’t speak English and we want to imitate the sound, we call it “yaourter”(to yoghourt), the imitation sounds like a very nasal language, kind of like a baby crying. It mostly imitates the “cowboy” accent.


I discovered this video some years ago and it remains one of my favorite things on the Internet.

Most people find it frustrating because of the whole “it sounds like English but there are none WORDS” deal.  I do find that frustrating, but mostly I find it frustrating because I keep waiting for THAT DAMN CHORD TO RESOLVE.

(Source:, via afrogeekgoddess)

19 November 2012 ·

63,773 notes

  1. striderisadork reblogged this from calibornskawaiieyelashes
  2. calibornskawaiieyelashes reblogged this from dbzreblog
  3. norsekidoutofframe reblogged this from captainofthegenderflood
  4. ghvifangirl reblogged this from dbzreblog
  5. dbzreblog reblogged this from doctorninjaspy
  6. davidbascombe reblogged this from nopezone
  7. lifa1994 reblogged this from lifa1994
  8. omfglxc reblogged this from goodtimesonline
  9. goodtimesonline reblogged this from georgebroski
  10. whitestarship reblogged this from theadmiraljanewayfiles
  11. shafting reblogged this from georgebroski
  12. sarcasd1ck reblogged this from georgebroski
  13. georgebroski reblogged this from imkugelblitz
  14. ambitiousbiologist reblogged this from theadmiraljanewayfiles
  15. 0supermegafoxxyawesomehot reblogged this from nineteneleventardisdalek
  16. papercastiels reblogged this from captainofthegenderflood
  17. mara-rogue reblogged this from petrichorical-syzygy
  18. captainofthegenderflood reblogged this from bowtiesandleatherjackets
  19. d-d-d-destiel reblogged this from petrichorical-syzygy
  20. petrichorical-syzygy reblogged this from showatimelordtheuntemperedschism
  21. akurol reblogged this from meganhilty

Who is the MadLori?

I'm Lori. I'm 40, a scientist and a freelance writer). Fanfiction is my drug of choice. This is where I dump all my obsessive fannishness along with whatever else strikes me. At the moment the dominant fandom is Sherlock. That can change at anytime. Be warned. Eye protection should be worn in this area.

I am also a crafter and I have an Etsy store.

You're probably after fic. My fic can be found here at AO3 or here at LJ. The LJ post is more complete for now. Moving fic over to AO3 is a pain in my hinder. I also have some stuff at under MadLori as well.

I have published one novel, a gay romantic thriller, under my pseudonym. You can buy it here or at Amazon.

MadLori's FAQ
Please check here before submitting a question, it may be answered in this post.

Any information about fic updates can be found by going to the "my fic" tag here or the [name of fic] tag.

Click HERE to submit an Ask. If you have questions about the "screw writing strong women" quote, please consult my FAQ before sending an Ask.

My tip jar.