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This Pop Song is What English Sounds Like to Italians

For English-speaking Americans who’ve wondered what their language sounds like to foreign ears, this Italian pop hit from the '70s might have the answer.

“Prisencolinensinainciusol” reached the top spot on the Italian charts when it was released in 1972, despite the fact that the lyrics were 100 percent gibberish. Italian singer Adriano Celentano wrote the song to mimic the way he thought American English sounded. “Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did,” said Celentano during a 2012 interview with All Things Considered. “I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn’t mean anything.”

Celentano came up with the lyrics on the spot while improvising over a looped beat. The result is bizarrely catchy funk rock anthem with a dash of Elvis Presley. Celentano’s impression is surprisingly convincing, even by native English-speaking standards. If you listen closely through the nonsense, you can even pick out the few coherent “babies” and “alights” that were thrown in for good measure. And it makes the perfect complement to a screening of Skwerl, the short film we wrote about earlier this week, which illustrates the English language through the ears of non-English speakers.

[h/t: NPR]

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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