If you are a native English speaker, it is probably hard to imagine what people who don’t speak the language hear when you are talking. “Skwerl,” a short film by Karl Eccleston and Brian Fairbairn, attempts to demonstrate what English sounds like to people who don’t speak the language.
The film was created in 2011 for Kino Sydney, “a monthly open-mic night for filmmakers” based in Sydney, Australia. Since being posted to YouTube 12 years ago, it has received over 52 million views.
The short film stars Eccleston and Australian actress Fiona Pepper as a couple whose special evening is disrupted when underlying relationship tensions creep up.
Warning: Strong language
Here’s a sample of the script:
So I ran to yourk around the wash today.
Yeah. That doll’s areen blunderface. Can berave that mory alpen john. Joo flan by the long blatt call?
Yeah. I coon by the mex areen. Oh you bleed that pribadium by the ronfort line today?
The video received some thoughtful reactions in the comments section. The SkyWolfie6655 summed it up perfectly: “As an English speaker, it feels like I SHOULD be understanding this and I’m just not, like I’ve heard them wrong or something, this is really well done.”
The film also connected with people who learned English as a second language. “Man, that’s exactly what I used to hear when I was younger, before learning English properly. This is actually quite nostalgic,” another wrote.
The video also is an excellent example of what people with a disability may hear even if they speak the language. “This is kind of what it feels like to have auditory processing disorder,” HorseFace1044 wrote. “It’s super frustrating because you can almost get what the person is saying, but not quite enough to understand what in the world they are talking about.”