This character is The Unintelligible
by choice, for many reasons, such as Obfuscating Stupidity
. He may require Translator Microbes
or a Translator Buddy
most of the time. When he speaks comprehensibly, it usually means something important.
See also Completely Unnecessary Translator
. Compare Elective Mute
and Elective Broken Language
- Mumbles from Dick Tracy. Only after enduring questioning under the lights for a time (and a specific threat from Tracy) does he suddenly speak clearly, "Eighty-eight Keys set you up. Big Boy paid him to get you out of the way."
- Fenster from The Usual Suspects, played by Benicio del Toro. He chews up his words so badly sometimes even his Heterosexual Life-Partner can't understand him.
- The two jailers from Monty Python's Life of Brian. The one played by Terry Gilliam speaks utter nonsense and the other (Eric Idle) has a severe stutter that causes him to draw out almost everything he says. These seem like verbal tics up until their last scene, where, after everyone else had left, they start speaking perfectly clear to each other, implying that it was all just an act to keep people from pestering them.
- In the film version of The Little Rascals, "Uh-huh" is so named because that's all he ever says. At the end of the film he instead says "Uh-uh", causing the other Rascals to react with shock that he learned a new word. Uh-Huh immediately responds "Actually, I've always had a rather extensive vocabulary, not to mention a phenomenal grasp of grammar and a superlative command of syntax. I simply chose not to employ them".
- Gypsies in Snatch..
- Rebo and Zooty are a comedy duo from the fictional universe of Babylon 5. Zooty speaks through some kind of electronic device as part of the comedy. Rebo claims that in all their time together, Zooty has only ever said one thing to him out of character: "Why?" Before leaving the Station, Zooty tells President Sheridan, "Because it tells me to." Notable in that Rebo and Zooty were played, respectively, by the boisterous Penn and the silent Teller.
- A famous sketch on The Benny Hill Show has Nicholas Parsons playing an interviewer talking to Hill, playing someone with a very heavy accent—e.g., Chinese, French, shanty Irish. Parsons has to keep asking the interviewee to repeat himself every other sentence because what he [Hill] says is incomprehensible, and frequently sounds off-color. In another sketch, Hill plays a fumbling Dutchman who uses his inability to speak the language to chat up an attractive woman he meets in the park. It turns out he's faking it and speaks perfect English.
- Donna Maria from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt deliberately speaks only in Spanish in spite of being trapped in the bunker for fifteen years. Nonetheless, she understands English and actually learned how to speak English after two years in the bunker.
- The way Dave Chappelle portrays Li'l John in Chappelle's Show is like this. In each Li'l John skit, he only screams "OKAY!," "YEAH!," and "WHAT?," and nothing else for a while, annoying everyone around him, then speaks full sentences in a calm and eloquent manner. He then goes back to his single-syllable bursts.
- BIONICLE: Turaga Nuju, who uses the bird language. He had Matoro as his Translator Buddy.
- The Vahki could actually speak the Matoran language, although too was high pitched for others to listen.
- The Cheat from Homestar Runner is implied to be this. He normally speaks in squeaky noises, but he's shown to make his own cartoons, and the voices are apparently done by him. The characters in his cartoons speak English, although badly acted and with a monotone.
- Pete in Darths & Droids took "mute" as a disadvantage in order to improve his stats, and must talk in beeps when speaking in character. Fortunately, nobody ever speaks in character, so this isn't much of a downside.
- The Order of the Stick has Blackwing, Vaarsuvius' raven familiar. Blackwing can speak Common, but considers it demeaning to speak anything but his native raven language. To Vaarsuvius, anyway. Later, once V thanks Blackwing for his noble efforts and starts treating him like a sentient being, Blackwing starts talking.