"Little List" - Groucho Version

Re: "Little List" - Groucho Version

Postby joku » Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:01 pm

ggluckman wrote: My impression--just an impression--is that Z learned this somwhat unconsciously, through repetition, but not understanding every thing. He makes seems not to have grasped phrases like "tete-a-tete", "puff it", and "nisi prius". Probably many adults would not have understood tete-a-tete or nisi prius, but seemed surprising to me that he replaced "puff it" with "phomphit". That mistake made me think he may have heard it many times as a child--is it likely his parents had a recording of the play?--but also made me wonder if he comes from a non-English speaking background. A similar mistake is evident in how the phrase "and floor you with 'em flat" becomes "implore you with im platt". These last two suggest somebody who doesn't understand the words, only to replace them with made-up words. I remember making similar mistakes as a child--mistakes like replacing misheard lyrics with nonsense words--especially when learning songs in other languages.

This is an interesting observation.

I just got around to listening the Groucho Marx version of this song. Out of curiosity, I intentionally listened it before reading the correct lyrics in the first post, so as to make a note how the words sound to me, and whether there's any parts that are unclear (I'm not an English native speaker). It seems I got the words wrong in quite same spots as Z did. The part about children sounds completely illegible, I just hear "flaw you with imphlatt" which makes about as little sense as Z's "implore you with implatt". Same with the tete-a-tete line.

I've seen some speculation about English not being Z's first language, which, in my opinion, shouldn't be entirely disregarded as an option. The words he uses in his letters, such as "shall", "nasty" and "properly" are really common expressions in English classes in Europe ever since the first lessons, because the variation taught back then (and probably still today) is British English. That, combined with all the strange spellings in his letters and the "drawl" that Hartnell heard give the scenario some plausibility (or then Zodiac definitely did have some form of dyslexia).
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