Here’s a great short film by Australian director Brian Fairbairn that has been doing the internet rounds lately. One of its purposes is to show how we can garner so much from just body language and speech intonation, even if we don’t know exactly what people are saying. In 4 minutes of conversation we can’t comprehend the actual dialogue, but we can discern what’s actually happening.
You’ll notice that there are quite a few English words in there – or rather, English phonemes. However, there’s never enough context to understand exactly what the characters are saying. The words used are often random enough to have you guessing, however, at 1:19 you can hear the word ‘crustacean’! It’s strange how the brain tries to make sense of it from the words you can understand, but then gets as lost as it would be if you were listening to another completely foreign language.
This is a little different from another popular video, titled “Prisencolinensinainciusol”, a music video made by an Italian TV show to demonstrate what English sounds like to Italians who can’t speak it.