rur rur rur

By: | Post date: April 28, 2009 | Comments: 2 Comments
Posted in categories: Greece, Language
Tags: ,

Fishing for links to Greek linguistics blogs on my own Greek linguistics blog, I fell across this Catherine Tate sketch (for the second time) via Λογογράμματα:

Hominid @ Λογογράμματα‘s comment was:

Στους αγγλόφωνους, τουλάχιστον, οι υπόλοιπες γλώσσες δεν ακούγονται μόνο σαν βαρ, βαρ, βαρ…

Ho esti methermēneuomenon:

For Anglophones, at least, other languages don’t just sound like bar bar bar

I’m sure Greeks have as good ears as Anglophones, but maybe not as much exposure; but I gotta say, this kind of parody of other languages is pretty prevalent in English, but I don’t remember it in Greek. I just remember the very lame substitute (which other languages also seem to do) of speaking Greek with an American accent.

The lame substitute is more often targetted at Greek-Americans than Americans in general; and its lameness (last sighted on the Antenna TV series Lola) is starting to get on my nerves. (I’ve linked to Antenna TV channel: *spits on his lapel*. Good thing I no longer have to watch Greek TV…)

The comment did remind me of what I found out recently from my Italian friend Gregoria: to non-Anglophones, all English sounds like “rur rur rur”. Corroborations: 1, 2, 3.

Pretty damn insightful, actually. (Then again, the Anglophone lampoons haven’t come out of nowhere either.) Two of the most distinctive sounds of English, which are damnably rare in the world’s languages, are [ɹ] and [ə]. Rarer still is their bastard progeny, [ɝ ɚ]. So putting them together in “rur rur rur” shows they’ve been paying attention to the oddities. (They wouldn’t put [θ] in, because it’s not as frequent—unlike the lampoons of Castillian Spanish. The [ð] of “the” should be frequent enough; but being an unstressed clitic, and not a content word, I suspect it’s not salient enough to insert in a two-second lampoon.)


  • opoudjis says:

    Όπως αγαπάς, Ελένη, αν και αξιώνω το δικαίωμα να μεταφράζω σχόλια για την αναμετάδοση!

    Oh, the ze is absolutely core to any English-speaker takeoff of non-English speakers speaking English. What I found interesting though, was that thethethethe could be used to make fun of Spanish (and Catherine Tate does), but you wouldn’t use thethethethe to make fun of English…

  • Eleni says:

    Absolutely true the “rur” sound… My 3 years-old daughter started learning English at school (in Mexico) and since last week she tries to say everybody’s names in English and the result is always “somethin-rur”!

    But isn’t it also an anglophone’s joke the “ze” as said by frenchmen?

    P.S. Do we get to write in English or Greek???

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