"Yes, but please first learning how to better English."
"Friends wondering why Nopon talk so strange? Well, we take high ecclesiastical form of Late Modern Noponese and map grammatical patterns onto Hom Hom language. This give us adorable yet expressive Nopon speech... Actually, me just made that up. Though you must admit, it pretty impressive theory."
When a character or group needs to be portrayed as foreign, primitive, or inferior in intellect,
yet still able to communicate and is intelligible, the language of these characters is spoken as a grammatically abhorrent mess. Characters could be speaking a mutilated version of the language they learned from another culture, or a butchered version
of their own language, or simply a language so "primitive" it appears from an outside perspective to lack complexity. This trope is Older Than Print
, going all the way back to Chaucer.
If the work is taking on a superior versus inferior viewpoint, the superior beings might use Spock Speak
or Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe
to contrast the barbarism of the other group. The inferior race is often shown speaking pidgin English and omitting articles, auxiliary verbs, possessive pronouns, and sometimes prepositions. The speakers often refer to themselves in third person. It is quite similar to Hulk Speak
, though even non-combatants can or will use it. In some cases, it is a form of Aliens Speaking English
, in which the creatures have their own language and speak English as a very poorly learned secondary language
This trope comes from two sources. First, English is a highly analytic language with little in the way of inflection (altering the spelling/pronunciation of various words to imply things such as case, number, tense, grammatical gender, etc.), so it requires a lot of words and many small auxillary particles to convey the same information some languages could in much fewer words. For instance, "no take candle!" would be a perfectly legitimate sentence in Latin (as would "no candle take!"). The second comes from pidgin languages
, highly simplified languages used by groups without a common language to communicate. Pidgins are stripped down to the absolute bare minimum of grammar needed to get one's point across, to make them easier to learn.
There's actually a scientific word for this kind of speech pattern: agrammatic speech
. Not the same
as ungrammatical, but one of the worse kinds
to the more racial Asian Speekee Engrish
and Tonto Talk
. Unrelated to You Can't Get Ye Flask
, except in sense that we suck compared to computer overlords
. Compare to Hulk Speak
and Strange Syntax Speaker
. If the speaker is otherwise very capable in their own language, then it is Eloquent In My Native Tongue
. The Trope Namer
is World of Warcraft
Other examples not included in the above:
open/close all folders
- The clumsily written fanfic Lisa Is Pregnant reads like this. "You awake. Bart is d'oh."
- In the pro wrestling story, A Ring Of Their Own, Ayoko Hamada is portrayed as someone who speaks like that. She's half-Japanese and half-Mexican. In the story, Japanese is her main language (the only other person in the story who speaks it is Lance Storm), Spanish is second and English is a very distant third, leading to some pretty funny segments.
- WHY MUCH DALEK?
- In one B.C. strip, the Italian Anno Domini and the Amerind Conahonty converse in this way. When asked how they can understand each other, coming as they do from different parts of the world, they explain, "Is universal language. Is broken English."
- The crocodiles in Pearls Before Swine mostly talk like this to convey their lack of intelligence.
- Subverted in Mongrels. Nelson uses this to try to communicate with Rob the chimpanzee when he first meets him. Rob assumes that Nelson normally talks like that and responds in the same way, until they realise their mistake and switch to normal English.
- Cookie Monster from Sesame Street usually talks this way.
- The Goon Show occasionally had "primitive" characters (Africans, Arabs, Red Indians, etc), who were usually played by the show's resident (black) singer Ray Ellington. Any Unfortunate Implications of this were partly subverted by Ellington's character clearly being more intelligent than any of the white characters. And it was the 1950s...
- Parodied in a 1949 Bob & Ray skit featuring Pronto, sidekick to the Lone Agent:
Pronto (Bob): Ug. Lone, that be completely impossible. You would be implicating me in crime, in which I can have no hand.
Lone (Ray): Huh? Is this Pronto speaking?
Lone: Where'd you get the education?
- The Bob Lassiter Show had sketches of Dingo Boy, (voice of a then unknown Adam Carolla) who searched the land in order to "Find man who killed parents".
Stand Up Comedy
- In one of her standup acts, Margaret Cho once joked that an advantage to being of Asian descent in the United States while going out to bars was that, when getting hit on by a guy in whom you are totally uninterested, you can state in You No Take Candle that you don't speak English.
- Tabletop RPG Land of Og, and its more playable successor Og: Unearthed Edition, limits its caveman characters to only a few words while speaking in character. Each character has a different set of words they can use, such as "You", "Rock", "Stick", "Thing", "Hairy", "Bang", "Go", and "Verisimilitude".
- This is played straight within the BattleTech universe. The Clans, in their fanatical devotion to restoring the ancient Star League, speak strictly in Star League Standard English (with some new terminology and shorthand as needed to reflect their unique culture, but never contractions). Conversely, they consider the mishmashing of languages used by the Successor States and the mediocre quality of their English as further proof of their descent into barbarism.
- Although according to The Powers That Be, Star League Standard English sounds like Valley Girl-speak.
- Also, most of the Successor States use English as a secondary language and use a different language or languages as their primary one, such as German (the Lyran Commonwealth/Lyran Alliance), French (the Federated Suns), Mandarin (the Capellan Confederation), or Swedenese (a creole language of Swedish and Japanese used in the Free Rasalhague Republic). Despite this, all the characters in the novels speak perfectly understandable English with few notable accents or grammar problems.
- "Confucius say, he who no take candle not very bright."
- In Chris Jericho's autobiography, he mentions that while he worked in Japan, he couldn't really speak the language and a couple of the friends he made there couldn't really speak English. However, he said that because he was fluent in "broken English" that he could still communicate; asking his friends "Would you like to go to the music store with me?" wouldn't work, but saying, "Maybe you me go CD shop?" would.