Friday, December 18, 2009

Hey, your fake English is Oll Raigth

In 1972, Italian singer/actor/director/comedian/general entertainer Adriano Celentano wrote this campy rap.

Each time I hear it, I think I hear an earworm burrowing further into my head.

The "Oll Raigth" is pretty clearly an attempt to capture an English sound of all right. And I kinda doubt the 'th' is a typo on the end. It sounds like they might be pronouncing the fricative [θ], which is an interesting interpretation of a glottal stop [ʔ]. Both avoid the plosive I suppose.

What makes it sound English? Well, if it does sound English (and it kinda does to me) it's probably a few things:

the fronting of /oʊ/ to [əʊ]
the breaking of [e] to [eɪ]
the aspiration on stops [pʰ] [tʰ] [kʰ]
the retroflex [ɻ]
the velarized (or dark) [ɫ] in some places
and it seems to me a lot of the off-glides before nasals, [ɻ]s and [ɫ]s.

And scads and scores of other features on other phones and details that have to do with contour, and stress patterns.

Anything you notice?

(thanks ed)


  1. When he says, "Chickens in my head became coco" at 44 seconds, that sounds like English.

  2. seriously -- am I supposed to understand ANY of this? It doesn't sound like English OR Italian. Help.

  3. Btw, also noticing something that sounds like English pluralization with that [z] after a sonarant in what sounds to me like the word 'eyes'. Also, there may be some vowel lengthening stuff going on, but I'm not familiar enough with Italian to know if that's anything of a contrast.


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