Learn a New Language with YouTube

Hi blogsters:

I rarely talk to young people, though I’ll confess to craftily observing them when I can, watching their interactions reflected in a plate-glass window, sneakily watching them at another table in a restaurant, trying to hear and understand what they’re saying.

The problem is, mostly I can’t understand what they’re saying.  As the years have progressed I’ve noticed that, even in convenience stores and fast-food joints I often can’t understand the simplest thing that’s being spoken.  I tilt my head, ask them to repeat, explain I’m a bit hard of hearing and ask them to repeat again, and finally usually give up and just smile and nod ‘yes’ if that seems it might be appropriate.

I don’t believe it’s entirely my hearing doing this.  I think there’s something new and different going on with language, but more importantly, inside the heads of people who sound as though words should be spoken through a mouth full of something, and really fast.

Mostly I don’t have a clue.  Frequently my curiosity taunts me.  I don’t know who these people are.  I don’t know what, nor how, they think.  To me it would be easy to merely mutter to myself, these kids are incredibly stupid, illiterate, and so whacked-out on television and public school brainwashing it’s a wonder they can function at all.

But I’m trying to insist to myself that the human race hasn’t truly devolved all that much in only a couple of generations.  These aren’t subhumans, though it would be easy to conclude they are, based on a lot of their mannerisms and behaviors in public.  I think these creatures probably think and feel, but that they don’t express those thoughts and feelings in ways that allow me to fathom them.

Enter, the blessing of YouTube.  When they aren’t too long, it rarely takes more than half-hour download on my dial-up.  But it’s a chance to actually decipher something one of those people thinks, feels and expresses, in a way that bypasses the mouth full of marbles and the speed with which the words come to the fore.  Once it’s downloaded it can be repeated until near-understanding arrives.

Old Jules

Steve Goodman– Talk Backwards [Edit: hope one of these links will work better]



(Cee Lo Green) “Fuck You” sign language performance

Note: Thanks to Monique Maes for her photo.

14 responses to “Learn a New Language with YouTube

  1. I think every generation feels the need to find their own way, or what they believe is their own way and with the world so full of images and Stuff, they probably feel the need to up the ante. One generation exposes their wrists, the next their legs, then their breasts, then “bellies,” now it’s tattoos and piercings and very expressive hair.

    I think young people are creating a greater openness, an ability to express themselves more freely. Maybe it’s still very individual.

    One thing I really appreciate about young people is their sense of humor. I love listening in to their rap (yikes, I just said rap) and feeling that joy they find in the everyday of life. We could all learn from them, I believe. I’m making a greater effort to listen to more of the current music so I don’t become staunch in my viewpoints. Love the Fuck You song in sign language. A perfect example of what I’m trying to say.

    Thank you, for never being banal.

    • Morning Teresa Evangeline: Thanks for the visit and the read. It’s not that I’m not banal. It’s just that I can’t understand the word when it’s said about me. Gracias, J

  2. Lol. I have the same problem with you. The posts themselves are literate, engaging, logical once you get into the rhythm. I have the sense of shaping thought. But often your replies in the comment section are complete non sequiturs to me. Kind of a pithy party.

    These things are easier to observe in others. I have been told myself that I seldom make sense in less than a page.

    O well. On average, it’s all very entertaining, nonetheless. And I look forward to every post.


    PS: The Steve Goodman ref is not working.

    • Morning Bob: Sometimes ‘on average’ is the best a human being has any business aspiring to. I’ve got a few sequiturs stashed around the place if the need arises to use them, but on the whole I find non sequiturs easier to follow on a sunny day. Hadn’t noticed you not making sense, but maybe that’s just me. The condition of not agreeing and not attempting to enshrine that disagreement in language doesn’t usually equate to not understanding where I’m concerned. You and I probably understand one another fairly well on my end.

      I appreciate your visits and your sequiturs. A blog probably needs those in the mix. Also thanks for letting me know the Steve Goodman link’s not working. Hoping it’s fixed now. Gracias, J

  3. That all made perfect sense to me.

    By the way, in trying to get the Steve Goodman link to work, I ran across this. Written in the ’70s, it perfectly expresses Y2K:


  4. I’m thinking that young woman has planned well in advance for removing the duct tape crop-top. [Who’s banal now?]

    I know the generation before thought the world would end with us, singing wanna shake your tree and I think I might like nibbling a little afternoon delight. It sounds so coy now.

    • Roxanne: Apologies for my banality. I hope I didn’t exclude myself in the set of limericks.

      She’s a nice young woman I’m told, friend or acquaintance of the lady who administers the blog and was kind enough after reading the final draft to give her permission to use the photo.

      Thanks for the visit and the observation. J

  5. The picture is from Punk Rock Prom here in Kansas City a few years ago. The trick is to dance hard and sweat enough so that the adhesive on the duct-tape is rendered useless. I used to work with Jeanne at the library, and I’m the nicest girl you’ll ever meet. =)
    Thank you Jeanne, for putting me on your blog!

  6. Monique Gabrielle: Any thanks owed is from this end of the blog-reality. I’m grateful to you for allowing the use of your pic and I’m certain Jeanne is, as well. I sense the post hasn’t been well recieved by the readers but it has nothing to do with your pic, but rather the words I wrote below it. Probably something inappropriate and offensive in what I expressed.

    Thanks for being what might be the only positive thing associated with this blog entry. Gracias, J

  7. For what it’s worth, I enjoyed the post. It certainly captured my own particular fix pretty well. I too regularly have to ask people to repeat what they say to me. Only I may be even further down the pipe. It’s not just the young. It’s everyone.

    And it’s not that I can’t hear the sounds they are making. It’s just that the sounds make no sense to me. It’s like talking to Martians. Or bush-apes.

    It’s a little nerve-wracking to forever feel the circle of profitable discourse tightening, tightening, tightening, more every day. I used hug the prospect, thought of it as liberating. It helped me ween myself from most television, and all commercials.

    But now I’m not so sure. You see, at bottom I know I’m just another bush-ape myself. And it’s possible that one of these days I’ll wake up, stare vacantly in the mirror, and lose all connection, even with myself.

    Around that point I too may have to get some chickens. You know, for the eggs.

    “Buk-buk-buk. Buk-buk-buk-buk-buk. Bwawk!”



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