The Jibbertalky

I have few accomplishments to recommend me; I cannot draw, my recitals on the pianoforte are clumsy at best and I have neither a talent for embroidery nor the gift of graceful movement. The one area in which, after much searching, I have found myself to excel is in the ability to produce plausible-sounding Gibberish at will.
Though it is far from my best, you may have a listen here.

I have found that the children I babysit for nextdoor can speak Gibberish fluently but that older, more refined people sometimes struggle with the language. My Long-Suffering-Boyfriend (LSB) for example, speaks only pidgeon Gibberish, but enough to get by in most situations. I can only aspire to match some day the eloquence of Charlie Chaplin, the world’s only native speaker of Gibberish as he introduced the world to Sauerkraut.

I think my good friend Stephen Pinker would have a lot to say about Gibberish. He mentions Lewis Carroll’s 1872 nonsense poem The Jabberwocky in his book The Language Instinct as appealing to our hard-wired knowledge of and acquired predictions about language. If he were to condescend to read my blog and then stoop even lower to follow its links, I imagine he would point to the patterns of intonation in my speech as consisting of a mad mishmash of the grammatical structures of the languages I have been exposed to and that he would herald subtleties in prosody as indicative of uniformity in the portrayal of emotion through language.

I believe that my penchant for Gibberish is also connected to my tendency toward deceit. Let me explain. In order to compensate for my shockingly limited general knowledge, I periodically fabricate bizarre facts and relate them to my nearest and dearest. Once, for instance, on a rather dull bus journey from York to London, I turned suddenly to my LSB and said, “Did you know that T.S.Eliot was the first known poet to use the word peanuts in a poem?” A look of intelligent surprise crept over his face. I knew he would remember it for life.
“Really?”, he asked rhetorically.
“No”, I said, “I just made it up”. He looked at me, searchingly.

On another occasion, I broke a comfortable silence with the slow, dramatic outburst: “On gelded wheatgrass glides the linnet’s wing”.
“What’s that?”, he asked.
“Oh, just Milton”, I said with the nonchalance of a pouting fish.
“Really really?”
“No. Sorry.”

Since I always confess my wrongdoing within seconds of a Gibberishish utterance, I rarely suffer the consequences of my perjury. Having pondered the matter privately at length however, I have come to the conclusion that at the root of my silly amusement lies my inability to see the trees for the wood.

Looking for the Trees in the Wood.

You see, as I’ve mentioned before, I like to take a fly’s eye of the world. I find pleasure in understanding how people work, how language works, how the brain wires itself. My ineptitude resides in my lack of interest in the details; I am perfectly content to marvel at brain plasticity, but I’d be damned if I memorise the precise nature of the neurotransmissions that allow me to type this prepostrous post at four in the morning.

I may never be afforded the opportunity to advertise my unconventional charms to Mr Darcy, as Lizzy Bennett was, but were the opportunity to arise, I would do my very best to present my bad habit as an … impediment.

18 thoughts on “The Jibbertalky

  1. Hmmm, this explains my inability to remember details of any biochemical pathway. Any on-the-spot fabricated remedy for no-trees-for-the-wood-syndrome (NTFTW)?


    • NTFTWS is caused by an imbalance of the reward systems in the brain: the dopaminergic projections in the basal ganglia are over -stimulated by the processing of novel ideas in the frontal cortex and as a result, shut down their projections more quickly, which results in decreased motivation to delve deeper into the subject and as a result, as in what happens with mice addicted to cocaine, the ‘pleasure seeking’ desire becomes focussed entirely on new ideas and episodes of Gilmore Girls. It has been found that frequent consumption of Irish Pride may have an effect on dopamine pathways but further research is needed and an epigenetic investigation is recommended.


  2. Totally entertaining article – I think that’s one of the first article I ever read about the details of gibberish. I do go into gibberish sometimes but I am unable to come up with ‘evidence’ to fully support my claims which isnt very good, I am afraid. And after a while, no matter how serious a face I put up, people tend not to believe the things I say anymore especially when it sounds too far fetch. The one possible solution to resolve this sticky situation is probably to brush up on my vocab – thats the answer I derived from reading all about NTFTWS.

    And pardon me for my slowness but I am assuming that you are referring to impediment as more of a speech disorder? πŸ˜€


    • Thanks, Clariice! hehe, yeah I was referring to Colin Firth’s speech impediment in the movie The King’s Speech, which brought me to tears again and again! your vocabulary needs no burshing up – I hope you don’t mind me asking, what yuor native language is? If you learned english as a foreign language, I am even more impressed with your writing πŸ™‚


      • We learn English as a first language in Singapore. It’s just that I realised English plays more of a functional role in Singapore and ever since I came to UK, I saw English in a different light. And I discovered this huge gap for me to cover in bringing English to a different level!! But I am really glad you found my blog and now I have an additional avenue to push up my standards:D


      • You don’t need to push up your standards at all. I find your writing really refreshing and somehow it reminds me a little of speaking German and English at once! It’s a privilege to read your blog. Keep writing! πŸ™‚


  3. @”NTFTWS is caused by an imbalance of the reward systems in the brain” Really?

    i can’t help but question everything you say now… πŸ˜₯


    • No, sorry I made it up, I was just having the bantz with my sister Jane above! Good job finding me in the big bad web, Cian. Was considering mentioning you (not by name) in my next post, and hope you don’t mind if your pony tail features.


  4. Hi Kate
    I used you pic of brain power in my blog. Thanks.
    The phrase I used was
    You need plasticity to deal with complexity
    You might like to look at the context of my business related blog
    I like the way you write – BTW


    • Hi Nick,
      Thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed your post. Am I right in saying that you use the principles of brain plasticity to enhance business performance? That’s a really interesting idea. I took a course in neuroeconomics once and I think these kinds of ideas could have huge potential to improve company relationships and output!


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