American gibberish

What does an American accent sound like to an Italian? The Italian song Prisencolinensinainciusol will show you.

Collezione Biblioteca Comunale G.D. Romagnosi, Salsomaggiore Terme / Public domain

Did you ever record your voice, play it back, and be aghast at what you sounded like to others? Well, the Italian singer Adriano Celentano created a song purposely imitating the tone, cadence, and sounds of an American singer… but with complete gibberish instead of actual words.

It’s really quite amazing how familiar and coherent this sounds, like a lesser Elvis. The song begins with these words, which mostly follow the phonotactic rules of English:

In de col men seivuan
Prisencolinensinainciusol ol rait
Uis de seim cius men
Op de seim ol uat men
In de colobos dai

Apparently Celentano was not aiming for parody here, but to make a point about the difficulties – and joys – of intercultural communication. Funnily enough, when it was released in 1972 the song reached the charts in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and the United States… but not in Italy.

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