My Neighbour Errol: Language

Have you ever learned another language? Unless you’re five years old, it can be pretty difficult. Your brain has to work overtime to rearrange all those strange sounds into something your brain MIGHT be able to respond to.

I need one of these.

I need one of these.

But then the more you speak it and the more you’re around it, the easier it becomes to absorb and soon your brain isn’t even translating. It simply understands.

Take French for example. Speaking it once a week in a classroom makes you passable, but hanging out in Quebec (or Paris for you Europeans) makes you fluent.

I assume this just follows fluency.

I assume this just follows fluency.

So what point am I getting at exactly?

Well, the other day Errol and I were walking down the street. He had to go to an epic gaming thing called Artemis. It’s this Spaceship bridge simulator and it looks hardcore. If it were me on that ship, I would most definitely crash it.

Seriously, what are all of these?

Seriously, what are all of these?

But I digress.

As we continued down the street towards Errol’s destination he asked if I would be able to get home in time to film my Whitless Letter.

Before I could answer he suddenly declared “Oh! You have a bing bing! So you can take the fling fling to the ding!”

Without even hesitating and with no sarcasm I replied “Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

It seems I have become fluent in Errol speak.

For the record, the translation is "Oh, you have a day pass! You can take the bus to the subway station!"

For the record, the translation is “Oh, you have a day pass! You can take the bus to the subway station!”

If you know Errol for more than a day, you will realize he has his own special language. It’s not even really a language. It’s three words. Not even words. Nonsense sounds.

And yet he uses them constantly and unpredictably, replacing nouns and adjectives until a sentence is almost unintelligible.  One might even say it’s like talking to a baby.

A guide to Errol.

A guide to Errol.

The first time I went for dinner at Errol’s house, I experienced my first lesson in the ways of Errol speak.

Errol: Can you pass the ding?

Me: The what?

Errol: The ding?

Me:…the salt?

Errol: NO, the DING!

Me: …The rice?

Errol: The Ding Bing!

Me: …Um…this spoon?

Errol: YEAH!

I give you a "ding-bing"

I give you a “ding-bing”

Sometimes it will be “ding”. Or “bing”. Or “fling”. Or “ding bing”. EDIT: Also, thingy bing. I forgot thingy bing. Why he doesn’t want to use actual English is somewhat of a mystery. WHAT the “ding” is at any given point in time is the challenge.

There is no pattern to it. There is no predicting when it will come into conversation. But it is a matter of survival that you understand it because Errol will not help you out in any way.

I googled "ding-bing" and this is what came up. It's as weird as Errol.

I googled “ding-bing” and this is what came up. It’s as weird as Errol.

Sometimes, for variety, Errol will simply add an extra syllable onto a word. Or make up a new one entirely. Pork-bork. Straw-baw. Squelchie-squoos (I am not exlaining that one).

And somehow, without even realizing it, I learned to understand each and every “-ing” that came my way to the point where I don’t even have to think or ask much anymore.

I'm like Jean Grey without the confidence....and the tight outfit.

I’m like Jean Grey without the confidence….and the tight outfit.

I’ve always been adept at languages, but this is kind of scary. Friends will gawk as I non-chalantly answer Errol’s questions, wondering what on earth he said and why in the sam hill I understood it.

But the scary part isn’t that I understand it.

The scary part is that I’m starting to talk like that as well.

Hello again useful picture.

Hello again useful picture.

The other day, I asked my co-worker to give me a report on the ding-bing. A few weeks ago I opened my fridge and delcared “I have soup-doops!”

Much like when I learned German, I am starting to use Errol vocabulary in amongst normal North American English. There doesn’t seem to be any stopping it.

It's all his plan I'm sure.

It’s all his plan I’m sure.

He’s even passed it on to his children, who I assume are spreading it to their friends at school. Soon Errol speak will be the new slang. And none of us will be safe.

So just be careful. Because before you know it, you’ll be dreading the ding you ever read bing.

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Posted on June 20, 2013, in My Neighbour Errol and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I love this post. Far more than I should. To the point it’s scary.

    My boyfriend got me to do something similar. We’ve had full, fluent, conversations in “Catfish”. We do this in public, around our friends and family, and when we’re alone. We don’t think anything of it any more. Really we don’t. It’s kind of fun to get those weird looks from strangers and just raise an eyebrow like “yes? Can I help you?”. My favorite moments are when someone walks away slooooowly. We’ve laughed so hard about it.

    I can imagine Errol laughing (rather evilly) at your reactions to the weird looks from strangers to Errol-speak.

  2. I do something similar, but it comes from two sources.. One is the kids book “The Hungry Thing” http://www.amazon.com/The-Hungry-Thing-Jan-Slepian/dp/0439275989/ref=cm_rdp_product_img#reader_0439275989 in which a monster must be fed. (Now I feel unsatisfied.. that link isn’t going to auto expand into a preview like it does on Facebook is it? but I digress… ) And the monster doesn’t speak right and ask for “schmancakes” which takes a young boy to realize that “shmancakes sounds like fancakes that sounds like pancakes to me” and so on with other foods like “tickles” and “featloaf”

    More often however I combine two words on the fly. I do have some regulars I use though. For example, two days ago I asked my daughter if she wanted me to microwave some feet for her. Since she is vegetarian (pescetarian actually), she has fake-meat thus “F’eat” or “feet” as I prefer to spell it as I say it. ooo! her imitation burgers are now officially eyeburgers!

  3. You should come and play Artemis with us the next time Errol comes down! You can blow stuff up!

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