Created By: Slouch on May 30, 2011 Last Edited By: Slouch on April 23, 2016

Extremely Limited Vocabulary

A character can only say a few words.

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Trope
For one reason or another, a character is limited to only being able to say one word. Pokémon Speak and Verbal Tic Name are variations of this.
A character who falls under this trope may be subject to So What You Are Saying.
  • The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training: the Bears use the mentally challenged groundskeeper as a beard so they can go on a road trip without any supervision. All he can say is Hello! How are you?" Except at the end when he says "Goodbye."
  • Crazy People: All David Paymer's character can say for much of the movie is "Hello." He even has a song about it.
  • Timmy of South Park can pretty much only say, "Timmy!".
  • Seen in the Newgrounds flash series "Larry the Littlest Freakin Knight", with a minion who can literally only say "yes". The big bad thinks it's hysterical, and makes him say yes to increasingly absurd and embarrassing questions.
  • In Who Shot Mr. Burns, Mr. Burns awakens from a coma, with only the words "Homer Simpson" in his vocabulary.
  • Errand (from the Belgariad) starts out this way, mainly because the only thing Zedar ever told him was "I have an errand for you". He eventually learns to talk.
  • The Seagulls in Finding Nemo are certainly an example of this.
  • Sandal (From Dragon Age), who can't say anything but "Enchantment!". He's also an extremely talented enchanter.
Community Feedback Replies: 28
  • May 30, 2011
    Hadashi
    • Elfine Leid
  • May 30, 2011
    peccantis
    ^ what?
  • May 30, 2011
    Baal16870
    so kinda like Uh-Huh in the movie The Little Rascals. (averted in the last scene when he actually gets a line about being rather vebiose but choosing not to actualy utilize his vocabulary)
  • May 30, 2011
    Bisected8
    Hadashi most likely means;

    • In Elfen Lied, "Nyu" so so named because that's the only word she can say. Until her "Lucy" personality returns at least.

    Anyways;

  • May 30, 2011
    davidnio42
    The Seagulls in Finding Nemo are certainly an example of this.
  • May 30, 2011
    Antigone3
    Errand (from the Belgariad) starts out this way, mainly because the only thing Zedar ever told him was "I have an errand for you". He eventually learns to talk.
  • May 30, 2011
    zero24
    Accidental Post.
  • May 30, 2011
    azul120
    I think we should combine this with Pokemon Speak and do a rename, and change Pokemon Speak to a redirect. Pokemon Speak is just too likely to sound lame to anyone who isn't into Pokemon.
  • May 30, 2011
    Schitzo
    In Who Shot Mr. Burns, Mr. Burns awakens from a coma, with only the words "Homer Simpson" in his vocabulary.
  • May 30, 2011
    TheBlankMage
    Seen in the Newgrounds flash series "Larry the Littlest Freakin Knight", with a minion who can literally only say "yes". The big bad thinks it's hysterical, and makes him say yes to increasingly absurd and embarrassing questions.
  • May 30, 2011
    randomsurfer
  • May 30, 2011
    Fanra
    • Timmy of South Park can pretty much only say, "Timmy!".
  • May 31, 2011
    Ardiente
  • May 31, 2011
    DaibhidC
    I agree with the merge with Pokemon Speak, the examples of which seem to be all over the place anyway (It's a character who can only repeat their name ... or repeats their name but otherwise talks normally ... or can only say one word ... or something.)
  • May 31, 2011
    Aielyn
    Personally, I'd like to see this trope expanded out to a more general Extremely Limited Vocabulary, or something, with Pokemon Speak being the subtrope handling single word vocabularies, which are notable, since one cannot really express anything with only a one-word vocabulary, whereas simply having very, very few words, but enough to actually say things of relevance, is still a trope.

    If this split happens, I'd offer one of the Whose Line Is It Anyway? games as an example of the broader trope - namely, the game where two of the comedians are given precisely two sentences they're able to say, such as "What does that do?" and "I don't like it". Hilarity Ensues.

    Pokemon Speak clearly needs to be tidied up, and isolating it to "exactly one word vocabulary, no matter what that word is" would fit the bill. And if there's room to modify the standard name, I'd offer Pika Speak, which is a play on Pokemon, but also on pico-, the very small SI prefix.

    EDIT: Also, in this situation, I'd suggest Welcome To Corneria as another subtrope.
  • May 31, 2011
    Triterope
    Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."
  • May 31, 2011
    ElaineRose
  • May 31, 2011
    captainbrass2
    A slightly broader Extremely Limited Vocabulary trope could include Father Jack from Father Ted, whose only words are "Drink!", "Feck!","Arse!" and "Girls!"
  • May 31, 2011
    Slouch
    ^^^^ Now there's an idea!
  • May 31, 2011
    jaytee
    I don't know what this YKTTW used to encompass, but as written, Timmy from South Park would be Pokemon Speak.
  • May 31, 2011
    TonyG
    • On The Tick an alien makes a clone of Arthur who can only say "I Arthur". Naturally, Tick is completely fooled.
    • There was a Recurring Character on The Jack Benny Program (played by Mel Blanc) who was a Mexican who mostly said "Si", and the rest of his vocabulary was made up of similar words (his name was Sy and his sister's name was Sue).
  • April 16, 2016
    Skylite
    • Bone Street Rumba has a character in the second book who can only say his own name while he is weak. Once he has a little more power he speaks in more complete thoughts, though still often interrupting himself to say his own name.
  • April 19, 2016
    Chabal2
    Skin Horse: Bubbles is a water-cooler AI, and thus her vocabulary is limited to "Service is my only joy". Later she gets a robot body, but even then she's limited to those five words (later six, when she learns "not"), though she can use them with emotions.
  • April 17, 2016
    Eggy0
    Would this count?
    Western Animation
    • Dexters Laboratory: In "The Big Cheese", Dexter tries to learn French while he sleeps using an absurdly large invention that serves as a record player, which malfunctions and repeats the same phrase over and over. By morning, Dexter "learns" French, but is only able to say "omelette du fromage", and while it does bring him massive success (getting an A+ on his French test and becoming popular, for example), he can't enter his lab because he's unable to tell the password and causes it to self-destruct.
  • April 17, 2016
    PistolsAtDawn
    i think im gonna start a TRS for pokemon speak because it really does seem to have problems- ill point them to this YKTTW
  • April 17, 2016
    JustTroper
    Literature
    • Subverted with the Bird Woman in Mary Poppins: no matter what the children say to her, her only replies are "Feed the birds" and "Tuppence a bag". However, it is established in later stories that she can speak normally, and these two phrases are just her Catchphrases or Verbal Tics.
  • April 17, 2016
    DAN004
    Pokemon Speak is pretty specific: they can only say their own name.

    We do have One Word Vocabulary though.
  • April 23, 2016
    Aubren
    Laconic and description don't match up. What's the limit? If a character knows 20 words, does that fit here? What about 5?
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