You can watch examples of this in the following Danny Kaye video that compiles scenes from several of his movies:

Fan Tribute - Danny Kaye: Master of Many Many Tongues...Indeed

Or in Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" too:

The Great Dictator - Fake German Speech Scene (No "Translations")

In short, it's all about mimicking intonation, sounds, even gestures of the foreign speakers, as perceived to the speakers of your own language, just to give the impression that you're actually speaking the foreign one.

I think it's mainly used in humor:

Italian interpreter?

Is there a term (verb or noun) for this gibberish just to fake you speak a foreign language? Is this a rhetorical figure with a name?

  • This scene is an example of an improvised [rh.fig.] by Charles Chaplin.

Or may be there exists a verb:

  • Danny Kaye usually [verb]s in his movies.

You are probably referring to what is known as:

Mock language is a term in linguistic anthropology for the intentional use of a language not spoken by or native to the speaker that is used to reinforce the speaker's language ideology of the hegemonic language.

When talking, the speaker includes words or phrases from other languages that they think fit into the conversation. The term "Mock Spanish" was popularized in the 1990s by Jane H. Hill, a linguist at the University of Arizona, mock Spanish is the most common form of mock language in the southwestern United States.


  • No, this is not the same. Here you are using actual words inserted into a coherent speech. Neither Chaplin nor Kaye are saying anything at all, and probably not a single word from the faked language. – cdlvcdlv Sep 5 '19 at 16:45

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