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Brock Samson: Some crazy people just won't stay locked up, you know what I mean?

Helper: (Long speech in robogibberish)

Brock Samson: That's beautiful, Helper. What is that, Shel Silverstein?

Helper: Beepledy Boopledy.

Brock Samson: Well, I don't think Maya Angelou was talking about this chick.

A character talks in some sort of Simlish, because they are The Unintelligible or an Heroic Mime, but at least one of the other characters has no trouble understanding them. Comedy is often derived from this when the characters get something complex, eloquent or otherwise plain long from a short phrase like "ook".

Often results in Repeating So the Audience Can Hear.

If people can understand them even though they're not saying anything you have a Silent Bob.

Examples of Intelligible Unintelligible include:


Anime & Manga

  • Daikichi Komusubi from Eyeshield 21 communicates in a language made up of grunts and one-word sentences known as "powerspeak", which can only be understood by strong men like Kurita, Gao, or Mizumachi (and, for some reason, Mamori).
  • In Heartcatch Pretty Cure, Snackies communicate entirely in monkey-like "kii!" utterances. Nevertheless, the antagonists can understand exactly what they're saying.
  • Ash Ketchum has a knack for deciphering his Pikachu's dialog in the Pokémon anime, even though Pikachu can only say his own name.
    • This seems to be true of most trainers, since they're always around their Pokémon and learn to understand them.
    • Pikachu does have a number of recurring phrases.
  • The strange animals on Nagasarete Airantou start this way to Ikuto. Everyone understands their nonsense but him until after he spends an episode trying to look for Kuma-Kuma. Seems that after that they can be heard speaking Japanese. Apparently he 'got used to life on the island'.


Comic Books

  • Arseface from Preacher (Comic Book) who due to massive facial trauma cuh uhluh tuh luh thuh (can only talk like this). Most characters can understand him, however.
    • So can the reader, if they sound it out.
  • Played with in an issue of Guardians of the Galaxy, where Maximus of the Inhumans can apparently discuss complex scientific concepts with Groot, despite the fact all Groot is saying is "I am Groot!" Of course, since his full name is Maximus the Mad...
    • Justified by Groot being incredibly intelligent - his lack of verbosity is due to his advanced age - and Maximus being a powerful psychic, as well as crazy.
  • In the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Golliwog verges on this if the reader doesn't apply enough fuzzy logic to him; he's speaking English, sort of, but using incredibly bizarre word choices to do it.


Film -- Animated

  • Lilo and Stitch: Stitch can persuade someone to let them go, and help Stitch save his ohana with a simple "Ih." Later on it turns out that "ih" just means yes, which makes sense given that it was in response to "you really expect me to [all that stuff] just like that?!"
  • Aladdin: Aladdin, and sometimes the viewer, can understand Abu the monkey, even though he talks in gibberish. (The most intelligible of Abu's phrases is "Aladdin, wake up!")


Film -- Live Action

  • Hot Fuzz features an elderly cop whose mumbling is intelligible to everybody on the Sandford Police Force except Angel, and later facilitates a three-way translation of another even more mumbly old man who not even Danny can understand.
    • At a later point, after Danny translates, Nick replies that he had understood, showing that he's at home in the village now.
  • In the Shrek movies, Dragon can only speak in facial expressions and roars. Donkey seems to understand what each roar means, however.
  • R2D2 from the Star Wars films can be understood by several other characters, including Luke and C3PO, despite communicating entirely in bleeps. Threepio is normally the one to translate (or otherwise reveal) what he is saying for the benefit of the audience.
    • Luke is shown using a monitor in his X-Wing which translates for R2-D2 when they're flying together.
    • Chewbacca as well, only Han, C3PO, Obiwan, and maybe Lando are able to understand him.
  • Herbie The Love Bug.


Literature

  • Also known as "The Librarian-speak Conundrum" after the Librarian in Discworld, who communicates only with "ook", but seems to able to be understood with perfect clarity by many (but not all) characters.
    • Only after a period of exposure.
      • The Librarian also occasionally says "eek", which is usually either an expression of displeasure (or some other negative emotion, such as anger or shock) or a "no", although the exact content of the statement can include a great deal more than that.
    • Similarly, the Death of Rats communicates entirely by saying SQUEAK but the few people he interacts with don't have much trouble understanding him, and Quoth the raven is usually around to translate for him.
  • Sunny in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Often used in the general Not Now, Kiddo frustrations, as she often observes crucial details but only the other Baudelaires can understand her.
  • In the Redwall book The Long Patrol, Corporal Rubbadub speaks only in drum noises, complete with gratuitous Rimshots after jokes made by the other Patrollers. They all seem to understand him perfectly well.
  • In the many Star Wars novels, there are many characters who can understand R2-D2 or Chewbacca. In a conventional novel, there would be no reason not to include sentences like, "And then Chewie said, in Shyriiwook, 'Pass me the peanuts.'" However, to preserve the ambience from the films, their dialogue is never provided directly like that. Instead, you get something like, "Chewie grunted a request. Han said, 'Sure, pal,' and passed him the peanuts."


Live Action Television

  • Lanny in Lizzie McGuire is The Speechless, but Matt (and only Matt) understands him perfectly. One gag involving this is when Dad answers the phone and gets silence; Matt says, "That's for me" and "Hi, Lanny!"
    • Another gag had Lizze and Matt switch bodies and had Lizzie able to understand him.
  • Subverted on The Muppet Show, when Beaker says something to Miss Piggy and she snaps, "Beaker, I told you never to talk to me like that!" After he leaves, she turns to the camera and adds, "Because I can't understand it." Similarly, there's a scene where the Swedish Chef is complaining to Kermit, and Kermit keeps going, "I understand." Once the Chef leaves, Kermit gives an Aside Glance and comments, "I don't understand." However, when it's funnier for them to be understandable, Beaker and the Chef sometimes play this straight.
    • Also played with in the case of the Swedish Chef who is himself The Unintelligible, but has been shown to have a perfect understanding of Beaker and in instance, some other Funny Foreigner muppets.
  • When we finally meet the Breen in Deep Space Nine, they speak in an unintelligible electronic buzzing. Despite that, everyone understands them perfectly, and even complements them on their eloquence. On a related note, Morn, the silent figure in Quark's bar, has a reputation as a chatterbox.
  • Cousin Itt from The Addams Family.
  • The Monkey Priest in Father Ted communicates only in 'oohs oohs', but all of the other characters understand him.
  • In episode 9x05 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Deadly Bees, Mike Nelson temporarily dresses as a bee and proceeds to communicate with Tom Servo and Crow in bee language (which involves lots of wiggling around but no actual spoken dialogue). Crow is confused, but Servo understands perfectly.


Newspaper Comics

  • This trope is older than they think, used as early as Peanuts (the comic strip), with Snoopy being the only character who can understand Woodstock. The adults in the television series are also incomprehensible to the audience, but the characters understand them with full clarity.


Radio

 Little Jim: (gibberish)

Bluebottle: I don't understand what he's saying.

Eccles: Just a minute, I'll ask him. What did you say, Little Jim?

Little Jim: (gibberish)

Eccles: Oh... he says he doesn't understand what he's saying, either.

Bluebottle: He's one of Mrs Thatcher's incomprehensives. (a reference to Britain's Comprehensive schoolteachers)


Video Games

  • Mario and Luigi in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga talk only in pseudo-Italian gibberish, which the English/Japanese-speaking inhabitants of the Beanbean and Mushroom kingdoms understand perfectly...most of the time, anyway.
  • The Guru from Sly 3 engages in a lot of this, particularly with Bentley and Murray.
  • Honda Tadakatsu in Sengoku Basara, despite only making mechanical noises seems to have no problems when it comes to communication since other characters are able to hold conversations with him.
    • Most of the time this "conversation" consist completely from other characters monologuing. Ieyasu, however, clearly understands what Tadakatsu wanted to say to him on some occasions.
  • Darth Nihilus from Knights of the Old Republic 2 speaks in bizarre language that is possibly generated telepathically. None of the major characters have any trouble understanding it (including the Player Character), but the player is left clueless, as his dialog is not subtitled, in contrast to all the other characters' lines, which are (even when they're speaking perfectly clear English).
    • It's possible that he's speaking the ancient Sith language, which, since it's not subtitled, may be the Star Wars universe's version of Black Speech.
  • King/Armor King in Tekken only speaks in jaguar growls, but everyone can understand what they're saying just fine. This also extends to Kuma (Bear)/Panda, Roger (Kangaroo), Mokujin (A wooden object brought to life), and Ogre (a 'fighting god' who only growls for speaking)


Web Animation

  • Tuba from Baman Piderman speaks only with tuba sounds, but everyone else understands her.
  • Several cast members of Homestar Runner fall into this, especially The Cheat and Pom Pom.

 Homestar: Whoa, Pom Pom! Let's tone down the language before the contest, huh?

  • In Brain POP, the robots speak in beeps, but humans can understand them.
  • In Red vs. Blue, the Meta speaks in mainly grunts and snarls, but his partner Wash has no problem understanding him.


Webcomic

  • The only thing George of A Moment of Peace ever says is 'Meep,' but his human friend Evi holds extensive conversations with him over tea and while plotting to capture monsters.
  • Metool D2 from Bob and George is a Shout-Out to R2D2, so his friends have no trouble understanding him. It helps that his friends are superintelligent robots (sort of).
  • Prospero in PS238 talks in strings of weird alien symbols. This is incomprehensible to all the cast except, for some reason, Angie. Unfortunately, because Angie talks entirely in New York slang, she's also incomprehensible to most of the cast...
  • In The Life of Nob T. Mouse, Bricky speaks Latatian; a language consisting only of various intonations of "pop", as demonstrated by this translation from the Nasties! storyline.
    • To make things even more complicated, in one comic he acts as a translator for another unintelligible character.
  • Dreamkeepers Prelude: Whip
  • Roza Nik
  • El Goonish Shive has Guineas (human / guinea pig hybrid shapeshifter) who in his default form talks via sounds rendered as "Squeek! Squee squee *snort* squee?". His siblings understand this speech though they also can talk with squirrels and hedgecats[1]).
  • Lampshaded in this Frog Raccoon Strawberry

Web Original

  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series, "Zombie Boy" (Bonz) says only "brains", and the cast seem to pull deep philisophical musings from the whole thing.
    • Often subverted and averted when characters just interpret what they want to hear or can't understand him at all (Marik's Evil Council Of Doom).
      • And often people can't understand him when he talks, as in Evil Council of Doom 4.
  • In the DarkSideIncorporated version of Yu-Gi-Oh GX the Abridged Series, Chumley communicates through short grunts.
  • In Cat Face, Box Cat can only communicate by growling, but Cat Face understands him anyway.


Western Animation

  • In an episode of Futurama, Nibbler zaps Leela with a beam to allow her to understand Nibblonian, which to the audience sounds like gibberish.
  • Kenny from South Park drifts in and out of this trope; it's a rare character on the show that can't understand him, but that's partly because most of his lines are perfectly normal English just spoken quickly and muffled. Even the audience can pick up what he's saying sometimes...
  • In Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, only Zilly can understand Klunk, which is presumably why Dick Dastardly tolerates Zilly.

  "What did he say? What did he say?"

  Kraab: "No need to get personal."

 Ikura: No, Wasabi, that's the rodeo. Clowns don't dive in a barrel in golf.

  • Boomhauer from King of the Hill isn't completely incomprehensible, just hard to understand. However, regular characters have no trouble understanding him, and in fact consider him the wisest and most eloquent character. There are occasionally gags about minor characters not understanding him at all, though.
    • This seems to only be true in Arlen; in one episode he falls asleep while innertubing and wakes up in Austin, where a policeman thinks Boomhauer's schizophrenic.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "Rabbit's Kin". it is possible to understand the little rabbit's speech, it's just sped up to the point of near unintelligible, if one were to slow it down you can clearly hear what he's saying.
    • This also holds true for Disney's Chip 'n Dale.
  • Both Spongebob and Sandy can understand Gary in SpongeBob SquarePants."

 Sandy: He has such a way with words.

    • And Mr. Krabs:

 Mr. Krabs: Spongebob what's wrong with you?

Gary: Meow!

Mr. Krabs: The Suds?!

  • Done on an episode of Pinky and The Brain in a running gag wherein two old men are sitting in armchairs and one of them will mutter something unintelligible and the other one will understand it and give a reply which leaves the viewer amusingly perplexed as to what the man could have been saying.
  • Helper from The Venture Brothers.
  • Octocat from Spliced can only say meow, but all the other characters can understand her.
  • Bumblebee of Transformers Prime can't speak normally due to losing his voice processor, rather like his movie counterpart, instead communicating through beeping noises. The other Autobots seem to have no problem understanding him. The only human who gets what he's saying is the Child Prodigy.
    • And even he is unsure why this is...
  • The Twins from Men in Black: The Series. Everybody besides J seems to have no trouble understanding them.
  • Ookla in Thundarr the Barbarian speaks only in unintelligible growls, but Thundarr and Ariel have no problem understanding him.
  • The Godpigeon from Animaniacs is very mumbly; Bobby typically translates for him.
  • Ivor, from Ivor The Engine, is only able to communicate by blasts from his three-toned whistle. Although he's incomprehensible to most of the human characters, his driver, Jones the Steam, is capable of holding conversation with him.
  • Meap from "The Chronicles of MEAP" episode of Phineas and Ferb speaks only the word "meap". Once he tears the Intergalactic Translator Mustache off of his foe Mitch and dons it, Meap is quite articulate.
  • Poof from The Fairly Odd Parents varies between only being able to say "poof" and being able to speak but incapable of formulating a sentence, yet everyone understands him. Lampshaded in one episode where Foop says he can't believe Poof got a part in the play, as he's "a much better actor, who can actually speak real words!"

Notes

  1. i.e., cats with hedgehog spines
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