Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures



My best friend sent me the following video:

Cinematically, it’s really impressive, requiring really complicated camera choreography (note that you can’t see the camera reflected in any of the dozens of mirrors). The dancing, which is what he wanted me to see and be amused by, is also pretty striking but after a minute, it was the song that stood out.

“That sounds like English but it’s totally not,” I thought. The singer, Adriano Celentano, confirmed my suspicion in an interview last year:

“Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did. So at a certain point, because I like American slang — which, for a singer, is much easier to sing than Italian — I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn’t mean anything.”

This reminded me that the word “barbarian” came from how the Greeks interpreted the language of foreign invaders. It all sounded like “bar-bar” to them.

According to my dictionary, the following are all ways of expressing gobbledygook in English, and they’re all great words.

gibberish, claptrap, nonsense, rubbish, balderdash, blather, garbage;

mumbo jumbo, drivel,tripe, hogwash, baloney, bilge, bull,

bunk, guff, eyewash, piffle, twaddle, poppycock, phooey, hooey.

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

7 thoughts on “Gobbledygook

  1. Love the awesome video and the little language lesson. These make my day.

  2. Awesome. Sometime ago while I was in middle school my teachers or somebody told me about this song. This is the first time I have actually heard it, though. Thank you. :D

    • Your teacher must have been really cool! I was glad to have been introduced to the song as it’s really catchy in addition to being interesting for linguistic reasons.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I love prisencolinensinainciusol. It’s probably my favorite “viral” video. The New Yorker blogged about it a few years back pointing out how it’s disco and rap before either of them had really been popularized. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/sashafrerejones/2008/04/universal-recor.html

    • Thanks for the link I’ve entirely given up on keeping up with the NYer, so it’s nice to have it curated for me!

      And even though I don’t like disco, that’s the part that was immediately appealing to me. Will have to see what SF-J has to say. He can surely explain the appeal.

  4. Pingback: Italian Music Gibberish: Prisencolinensinainciusol - Crystal King

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