Friday, December 4, 2020



The word gibberish is defined by one of the following

a) unintelligible or meaningless speech or writing; nonsense.

b) the nonsense speak of a mad person in a Shakespearean play.

c) The first draft of any Caro Ramsay novel

In reality, all three are true.

Gibberish can have appeal, especially if the words are in a song and the musicality of the gibberish can add something to the mix, usually resulting in people singing along with what they thought they heard, and generally making up their own lyrics.

And sometimes, great songs just don’t make sense. I have no idea why black and yellow custard would drip from a dead dog’s eye, apart from in a Dali painting. And don’t get me started on Hotel California. Or a Whiter Shade Of Pale.

 But back to gibberish, gibbering and doing the gibber, the use of non-words to make sounds that may or may not sound like words.  I started googling all this and ended up down a rabbit hole of gibber for a long time- at least in gibberworld things are not supposed to make sense.

What I hadn’t thought about was the role   the receiving ear has in the gibber exchange. My ears think that most American rap music is just noise but I can sort of hear Eurovision language in a song.  I presume that vice versa is true.

The Italian  Adriano Celentano was rather intrigued by this, or in fact he was rather miffed because he had a theory that fans of European pop music would buy anything with a catchy tune in English. Or sounded like English. This was in 1974, when the Eurovision Song Competition allowed entrants to sing in any language  and  most chose English.

Andriano came up with a song to prove that he was right. He was.

The song Prisencolinensinainciusol   which I think it a great wee song, a real thumping number. And I love the  video, like an aerobics class choreographed by Fritz Lang, but have a listen to the song, watch the video. What words can you hear? Do they say ‘ice’    or ‘ nice’….. is there an ‘all right’ every now  and again?

 The song is reputed to have a few real words in but after a few listenings , I am making up Mondegeeens ( mishearing lyrics) left, right and centre

Adriano Celentano & Raffaella Carrà Prisencolinensinainciusol - Bing video

Song starts about 1.40 in

In the end the song was a huge hit all over Europe.

 But not in English speaking countries.

Then,  while I was down the google rabbit hole, I found out that  a British comedian made a cover version of it,  putting in real English words, to make the same sounds as  Prisencolinensinainciusol, but didn’t make  any kind of sense.

Prisencolinensinainciusol  becomes  freezing cold in 89 twoso

Here it is

But don’t listen to this for too long as your brain will rot, it’s awful.

 Here are some Mondegreens as we all need a titter

So, as you all know mondegreen comes from the mishearing of 'They have slain the Earl o'Moray/ And laid him on the green' as 'They have slain the Earl o’Moray/ And Lady Mondegreen'. From the traditional ballad 'The Bonny Earl of Murray',


So Tina Turner ‘You're simply the best, better than an hour's rest'

Marc Bolan and T Tex with Metal Guru, easy chew.

 'Britons never, never, never shall be saved', I think we are supposed to never be slaves

 'The ants are my friends, they're blowin' in the wind' said Bob Dylan never.

 'Sue Lawley', Sting and the police’s tribute to Sue Lawley the BBC newsreader

And Kate Bush was ‘out  on the wily windy moors we’d role and fall in brie’  Cheesy.

Young man with eyes like potatoes, my favourite Madonna lyric, La Isla Bonita

Charlie is my darling, the young chandelier

 And of course, the Bohemian Rhapsody;  Save him this life from these warm sausages.



  1. The best one ever is the Jaberwocky. I used to be able to recite it. It ALMOST made sense after a while...

  2. I thought it was about two fishy things in the water doing, well fishy things!

    Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.


    Bec Hill (or Be Chill if you mistype it) is an Australian comedian who uses flipcharts to demonstrate misheard lyrics. Her most famous work (for those of us who've heard of her) is in the video above: Non Je Ne Regrette Rien.

  4. Oh, have just watched that, - mr S was on hysterics !

  5. Caro, I always learn so much from you. I simply loved everything about the original version...the lighting, choreography, music. Just terrific. I made it through the second version, and didn't find it offensive to my musical sensibilities (an admission which undoubtedly downgrades my credibility in opining on the original version). Continuing in that vein, I also felt as if I actually understood most of the "lyrics" of both versions. And, no, I wasn't a follower of Timothy Leary, but I did grow up in Pittsburgh.

  6. I have only one comment to make on that....Prisencolinensinainciusol !

    1. Whew, I was fearful of a sharp reprimand on the order "Losuic nian is ne nilocnesip?"

  7. Well, is this an MIE first. Brian Price has just messaged me to say that I committed a Mondegreen in that blog. It's Yellow Matter Custard dripping from a dead dog's eye.... not black and yellow! I have thought it was black and yellow since I was about 4....