This is What English Sounds Like to Foreigners

Can't quite make out what the actors in this video are saying? Don't worry, you haven't suddenly developed Wernicke's asphasia. "Skwerl" was purposefully designed by director Brian Fairbairn and co-writer Karl Eccleston to replicate the sound of English as it might seem to those who don't speak it. All of which makes for a strangely disorienting experience for those of us who do. The video may be two years old, but it's getting a second life on the interwebs today and with good reason. 

Certain phrases occasionally jump out as your brain grasps for meaning, but only leave you more confused. On a casual listen I picked up what sounded like “Elton John,” “Magdalene nation,” and “that cat's a long way from the rainbow.” At least you don't need to understand the 'language' to understand the nature of the domestic dispute between the two characters, and the swearing match that breaks out at the end is undoubtedly very recognizable English.


Have a listen. Anyone else hearing the cat-rainbow one?

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Kathryn Nave

Philosophy graduate from King's College London, interested in anything and everything. Arts and entertainment breaking news writer for PolicyMic. Writes about film production for KFTV and The Knowledge. Worked as a staff writer at the Daily Tar Heel, and has been published in the Times opinion pages.

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