A Short Movie Shows What English Sounds Like to Non-English Speakers

A short movie that was made a few years ago shows how English may sound to someone that has no knowledge of the language.

A Short Movie Shows How English Sounds Like to Non-English Speakers
A Short Film in Fake English

Originally called Skwerl, the movie features two actors portraying a couple that has a special occasion and is about to celebrate it during a lovely dinner. However, instead of everything coming out roses, things start to escalate into a massive fight.

While it may seem like a regular short movie at first, as soon as you focus on the actual words that are coming out of the fighting couple’s mouths, you’ll realize that this is not just an ordinary film. It sounds like the couple is speaking in English but it’s quite hard to pick up what they’re actually saying. Soon enough, you start to realize that it’s largely gibberish.

The Film Was Created 11 Years Ago

Karl Eccleston, Brian Fairbairn

Created by the duo Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston for a short film event in Sydney, Australia, the movie aired 11 years ago, billing the piece as A Short Film in Fake English. You can find the film on YouTube with the title How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers.

The short film is described as being in “fake English” meaning that the whole script is made up of real English words, words that sound a bit like English, and complete “gobbledygook.” One of the main ideas behind the film is that it’s enough the follow the actors’ body language and read the non-verbal forms of communication and still work out what is going on, even though the words aren’t intelligible in English.

A 1972 Song With the Same Idea

The short movie isn’t the first attempt to show what English sounds to those who don’t speak it. Adriano Celentano, an Italian singer, released a song in 1972 called “Prisencolinensinainciusol.”

Adriano Celentano

The tongue-twister song is in total gibberish but sounds like someone is singing in English with an American accent. “Prisencolinensinainciusol” made the top 10 in four countries, including Celentano’s native Italy, and number two in Belgian. It was also a hit in the UK where native speakers couldn’t understand a word.