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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

English . . . for those who don't speak English . . .

Here's another excellent piece from Mark Evanier's blog (
Today's Video Link

I guess this one's for those of us who speak English and only English. I'm one such person. Matter of fact, I'm pretty hopelessly addicted to English. I took Spanish in Junior High School and I was absolutely dreadful at it. I remember about three sentences, one of which translates to "And notice how nice the lights are!" If I ever travel to a place where they only speak Spanish, I need to be in rooms that only have good lighting. Otherwise, I'll have nothing to say.

Later in school, I took German, Portuguese and Italian. I recall about ten words of each and didn't know that many more when I took my final exams in those courses. You could waterboard me and maybe get thirteen or fourteen out of me but that's about it.

Years ago when I worked with the great Sid Caesar, I was (like everyone) stunned and impressed at his ability to generate double-talk in French, in German, in Italian, etc. I found myself wondering, "What does that sound like to someone who actually speaks the language Sid is doing?" Or more interesting, perhaps: "What does it sound like if someone fluent in another language did double-talk English?" I once asked my pal Sergio Aragon├ęs about it and he did an imitation for me of what Mexican comedians do when they do to English what Sid Caesar does to their tongue. It was...odd. A few real English words intermingled with a lot of incomprehensible vowel sounds with a Texas accent.

Anyway, Jim Newman just sent me this video link to a show apparently from some Italian variety program. The star is a gent of whom Jim says, "I'm guessing this guy is the Sid Caesar of Italy." Apparently so...

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