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You No Take Candle: Real L Ife
  • Telegrams were usually in You No Take Candle as a way to save money on transmission costs and work for the operators, cutting transmission time.
    • Recently, Twitter has brought back this mode of English-mangling. With only 140 characters, you either sacrifice grammar or risk running o
    • Text messaging can be this way. Originally, it could be chalked up to character limits and an inconvenient 'keyboard' (the phone's dialing pad).
  • Justified in newspaper headlines, which routinely omit non-semantic words (and, but, a, the) from phrases for brevity's sake, which can lead to ambiguous syntax.
  • The reason so many characters who exhibit this trope are barbarians is that this trope is literally the origin of the word "barbarian". A barbarian was someone who spoke "bar bar bar..." (i.e. incoherent babble, like the bleating of sheep) instead of the language proper. Since the only proper language (according to the Greeks, who coined the term) was Greek, the original meaning of "barbarian" was a non-Greek. Only later did its meaning broaden to uncivilized behavior in general.
    • Latin too. "Barba" means beard, and "barbarus" means unintelligible/jargon. Barbarian can be called a bearded babbler then.
  • "Now he dead from coke".
  • Afrikaans sounds this way compared to Dutch. Although the language has naturally matured over the centuries and has become a solid and distinct part of the Germanic language family, many, many aspects of it sound like "baby speak" to the average Dutch person. This, in turn, makes the stereotype of an African person speaking in very broken and primitive syntax a very valid (and definitely not dead) trope in Dutch media, because this is exactly what the linguistic roots of Afrikaans are. The indigenous people were forced to speak Dutch, with no way of actually learning the syntax and grammar - and several centuries later, the language still retains many "you no take candle" type phrases.
    • Dutch has the opposite problem in Afrikaans, sounding like Ye Old English to Afrikaans-speakers. Dutch rap becomes especially hilarious this way. Like English, Afrikaans have no grammatical gender (except in set phrases inherited unchanged from Dutch, known in Afrikaans as "language fossils"). It always uses the equivalents of "is" and "us", leading to sentences like "us hope us teammates is doing well" ("we hope our teammates are doing well"), hence this trope. As a result, Dutch-speakers easily fall prey to this trope when speaking Afrikaans, if they attempt to do so merely by oversimplifying or otherwise mangling their Dutch.
    • The Northern dialect English uses the "us" construction too: in a discourse, "our" is replaced by "us", e.g. "Let's gerr us lunch" for Let's have our mid-day meal. People in "sophisticated" Southern England often sneer at this as evidence Northerners are uneducated and backward. Then again, because South-Eastern English is the "official" Received Pronunciation version of the language, they tend to forget theirs is just another dialect too, with no innate superiority.
  • While not exactly "baby speak", particular Dutch expressions and phrases sound like "oversimplified" or colloquial German to Germans. Interestingly, also applies the other way around: German can sound like Antiquated Linguistics or Spock Speak to Dutch ears.
  • Any Russian speaker who has ever tried their hand at classical Russian (i.e., Russian written before the revolution) has realized that the Russian language, not so much in grammar but in spelling, has been greatly simplified in the last century or so. The result is a sort of inversion of this trope, temporally speaking: if a nineteenth century Russian speaker came over to take a look at some modern Russian literature, he would sit agape at the enormous impropriety of the modern Russian language; the equivalent, to an English speaker, would be going into the future and finding that everything is written "liek tis, wit hardli ani varyashun in speling rools end leters remoovd at evri oportoonty".
    • That's partially because differences between modern Russian and Russian used as late as in the early 18th century resemble the discrepancies between modern English and Old English (complete with numerous differences in script) thanks to the long influence of Old Church Slavonic.
  • Norwegian Bokmål has partly suffered from the same natural simplification over time. Danish as written abt 1850 resembled the "Dano-Norwegian" used at the same time, in using a lot of insertions, passive sentences and so on. Over the years, the Norwegian standard has been simplified into a more "Subject-verb-object" way of writing. The Speech patterns are another matter, though, as many Norwegians still think it is "posh" or even "classy" to speak in a more archaic mode.
    • The Nynorsk has arguably gone the opposite way. It was meant to be rather "after the verbals" in the spoken language, with a totally different structure of sentences, where passives were rare (consider "He was going" set up against "he went". Clear and simple). The Bokmål pressure has made nynorsk more elaborate over time, if the writer is prone to think in syntactical bokmål and not the other way around.
  • This trope may be the perception of speakers of relatively more synthetic languages towards speakers of relatively more isolating languages, and their accents when crossing the linguistic barrier. Isolating languages tend to have a low morpheme-per-word ratio, with word order usually being more critical to comprehension. Synthetic languages, on the other hand, commonly use words with many morphemes fused together in a high degree of inflection, and actual word order is less critical for comprehension (though may in fact help determine a sentence's emphasis).
    • There is recognized a sort of sliding scale of languages being more isolating or more synthetic. Afrikaans, Vietnamese and Chinese are less synthetic than Indonesian/Malay, which is less synthetic than English, which is less synthetic than Japanese, which is less synthetic than Finnish, which is less synthetic than Nahuatl.
  • Patois in general does exist all over the place, and do SEEM to be full of errors when compared to "proper" language, but after a generation or so any apparent bugs have probably become features. For instance, in Nigeria "I went to the store to get milk" and "I went to the store for get milk" are both correct, but have different meanings... the second one means that you weren't able to get the milk. Note that this a shade of meaning that can't be conveyed quite as efficiently in standard English... note also that the sentence "I went to the store to get milk, but they were out" might strike someone fluent in Nigerian patois as ungrammatical.
  • Brazilian Portuguese sounds like this to Portuguese people. For one, they usually use the "você" in place of "tu" (both meaning "you") and its respective verbal differences. ("Você é um traste" being heard as "You is garbage".) Another point is the lack of plural in some cases (though thos is more prevalent in the more uneducated people) as in "as vaquinha" ("as" being the female plural form of "the", and "vaquinha" being singular "little cow").
    • Though European Portuguese can come across as this to Brazilian people, in that they usually don't use the Gerund tense (the "-ing" on the sentence fragment "I am watching"). Instead the write "a" ("to") and the infinitive (normal) form of the verb. Using the sentence above as an example, an Brazilian would write it as "Eu estou vendo" a Portuguese would write "Eu estou a ver" (Which might sound like "I am to watch").
  • This really is something that happens, especially when people are first learning the nuances of a new language. What seems incoherent to us as an idiom, makes perfect sense to a native. Try saying "two birds with one stone" in another language, and you'd get blank stares from a lot of them. Phrasal verbs and idioms are the bane of language learners.
    • Oddly enough, the specific idiom above has an exact Japanese translation, 一石二鳥A few four-kanji sayings do, such as 自業自得; you reap what you sow. But most don't such as 知恵分別, which can only be explained as "having a firm grasp of the truth and being readily able to make appropriate judgement and/or decisions." Not exactly a flowing, catchy phrase.
  • Many Americans view Ebonics this way, since it changes about half our grammatical rules. For instance, there's no word for the present tense of "be" (rendered in standard English as "am", "is", or "are") in Ebonics. It's just skipped over. As is the possessive -s. The result can sound like a very broken form of English, and has helped contribute to the "stupid black youth" stereotype. (As in the Nigerian example above, and indeed every dialect in existence, there are grammatical distinctions in Ebonics which are impossible in English; "He working" means "He's at work right now", "He be working" means "He has a regular job".)
    • The irony of reliance upon the idea of Ebonics as an identifying language for a group as opposed to a descriptive language for a dialect is that a great many white people from Appalachia and the South speak a dialect nearly identical to Ebonics with the same rules. Those with very little black interaction assume there is more there than actually is.
      • However this does play into Northern stereotypes of Southerners being dimwitted.
  • When making contact with "primitive" cultures in the 19th and 20th centuries, many people assumed that these cultures used hand gestures (like the "drinking" sign of making a fist and "drinking" from your thumb) in everyday speech, even though they indigenous people would usually only use them as an easy way to communicate with foreigners.
  • King Amadeo I of Spain was an Italian prince that had absolute zero knowledge of Spanish when he accepted the throne, and would struggle to learn just a few words. On one occasion he tried to discuss a law that was being debated in the Cortes (parliament) and could only come with something like "I contrary". This heavily contributed to the massive flop in popularity that led to his abdication only three years after taking the crown.
    • Although, apparently, King George I, being from Lower Saxony, had fewer problems in working with the English Parliament. He just used French, which everyone spoke anyway.
      • Well, that, and the fact that he mostly left the government of Great Britain and its empire to Parliament, which at this point was better-equipped to do so than the Cortes was in the 1870s (considering that the English Civil War had more or less guaranteed its supremacy over and unity as a check against the monarch twenty years before George took the throne, while Amadeo's Cortes was fractious and inexperienced). He mostly focused on governing Hanover and his other German territories, and left the business of government to Sir Robert Walpole (thus unofficially establishing the office of Prime Minister and inadvertently inventing parliamentary government more or less as we know it today).
      • In his memoirs, the secretary of the Amadeo I wrote that the king was neither particularly bright nor well educated (especially for a member of aristocracy) and had trouble in discussing legal matters even in his own language.
  • Most Slavic languages don't have articles (a, the) at all, leading to many English learners omitting them (that's why "in Soviet Russia, Party finds you", instead of the Party). In addition, they have a radically different phrase structure — what about having a free word order where the linguistic role of a word is determined by inflection, rather than position, which is used for emphasis instead. Thus, having learned English as adults, they simply carry the imprinted grammatic structure of their native language into English.
    • Additionally, at least in Polish, the repetition is strongly discouraged so the omission of "I", "you" etc. is common (the subject of sentence can be deduced from grammatical structure of sentence). The reverse projection of using the "I", "you" would be a stylistic error (especially in written text).
    • Speaking of Slavic languages... Croatian language has dozen or so grammar tenses, but only few are used regularly.
  • Most Latin/Romance languages like Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Romanian (French being an exception) are null-subject languages (Meaning the verb can indicate the person it applies to, e.g. "Eu estou" and "Estou" both mean "I am" in English, the first one using the pronoun and the last one not, and both are correct. An uneducated speaker of any of these languages can give such gems as "Am hungry".
    • On the other hand, Portuguese and Spanish both have two different versions of "to be". One of them is "ser", being what you are and, supposedly, can't change out of, for example "Being human" or "Being gay". The other is "estar", being in a state out of which you can change, for instance "Being here" or "Being alive" (The exception being "Being dead" Wich translates to "Estar morto/muerto"). Hearing an Englishman say "Estou Inglês/Estoy Inglés" (I'm English) is very funny for someone fluent in any/both of these languages.
  • A version of this used to be very common in English spoken by Irish people, because Irish grammatical structures were imported directly into the language, sometimes creating strange, convoluted sentences. The best known example arises from the fact that Irish has an extra form of the present tense called the "gnáth láithreach" (habitual present) used for actions which occur on a regular or ongoing basis, which uses "bíonn" (to be) as an auxiliary verb in its conjugation, resulting in constructions like "I do be going to the pub every day". Other typical "funny Irish" sentences like "Is it looking for a slap you are?" (a cleft construction, used in British English for sentences like "Is it the red car you want?") or "I have a great thirst on me" can be attributed to the same kind of imported grammar. Now that the English language has so strongly taken hold in Ireland, you rarely actually hear grammar like this outside of rural areas or those few places where people still speak Irish primarily - though our friends the English were still using it in "Paddy the Hilarious Irishman"-type skits long after it fell out of general use.
  • Speaking of, Cockney rhyming slang is intended to sound just like this: a bunch of idiot lower class people utterly butchering the language beyond comprehension. In actuality, it's code that relies heavily on local teaching and euphemisms, and virtually impenetrable because the key to translation — the rhyme — is assumed to be known to the audience already, and is not spoken: "I'll have a look" becomes "I'll have a butcher's", referring to "butcher's hook", which rhymes with "look".
    • It gets even crazier than that. You can make up a new rhyme on the spot, never say the second half, and have it be obvious simply from the context. The listener will deduce that because the sentence makes no sense, it must be a new rhyme, will work out what it must mean from the context, then find the rhyming word to complete the phrase so they will remember it. From that point on, the group may use the rhyme when context isn't enough to deduce it, and the outsiders are stumped yet again.
    • A significant proportion of the rhyming slang mentioned in guidebooks, or used by those who work with tourists (e.g. cab drivers and tour guides), is not in standard use by anyone, and may be made up on the spot to impress/amuse the customers.
  • Chinese (even, and even especially, Classical Chinese) has a simple (or even simplistic for our tastes) grammar with only a few exotic things, which can lead to the stereotype of Chinese people speaking with simplistic grammar. Masterpieces such as the Tao Te Ching or The Art of War, when translated literally, would seem to fit this trope. Of course, it didn't deter them from being such a prestigious civilisation.
    • The funny thing is that, despite the vast differences between English and Chinese in general, Chinese grammar is actually more similar to English grammar than that of many European languages (by way of convergent evolution). Both English and Chinese are analytic, isolating languages (more or less; English is much less analytic and much less isolating than Chinese) with relatively fixed word order and no (or vestigial in the case of English) grammatical gender. Most European languages are highly synthetic/inflected, allowing freer word order and have very strong grammatical gender. As a result, native speakers of English actually find learning Chinese substantially easier than native speakers of, say, French or German; the reverse is also true.
  • Subverted by Israelis who often depict themselves as such on their own media, as a form of self-humour. Their speech usually isn’t that bad, but its grammar is usually poor and the accent is very thick, not to mention the occasional phrases uttered in Hebrew. In reality, Israelis can very often have rather decent English with an accent better than the one depicted, and occasionally there are Israelis with a near-perfect American accent thanks to American media (notable case: Bar Refaeli), although this is quite often a case of Truth in Television among the poor and uneducated.
  • Almost any creole or pidgin language will sound like this to speakers of the language it draws most of its words from. For example, written Hawaiian pidgin (mainly a combination of English and Hawaiian) looks like this: "He goin give me everyting I need." "Da peopo ova dea dat stay inside da dark, dey see one big light now." "You guys know how da food need salt fo stay good."
  • Expressive aphasia is an involuntary version of this. Basically, the Broca's area—the part of the brain that controls grammar—is damaged. Sufferers of this condition typically speak very slowly and their sentences often lack pronouns, articles, and conjunctions. Instead of saying "There are three bowls in the cabinet," a person with expressive aphasia would say "bowl bowl bowl three cabinet."
  • The development of English itself is bound up in this trope. Old English, having developed from several West Germanic dialects along the North Sea coast and later came into extensive contact with Old Norse, was losing many inflections well before 1066. As for afterwards, many described the developing standard as what Norman soldiers used to chat up Saxon barmaids.

Western AnimationYou No Take Candle    

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