Do You Speak Minionese?

Apparently, everyone and no one does.  Well, except maybe for the film directors and voice actors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.

So what is Minionese?  Did the creators hire a language expert to create the gibberish these yellow capsule-like beings speak?  For movies like Avatar and Star Trek, they hired a linguist to construct Na’vi and Klingon, but for Coffin and Renaud, they have created the language themselves.   Coffin shared, “So, these words pop out, and I have them speak Indian, French, English, Spanish and Italian.  I mix up all these ridiculous sounding words just because they sound good, not because they necessarily mean something.”

Whatever formula they used actually worked, as the fans absolutely loved the gibberish. Renaud adds, “Their language sounds silly, but when you believe that they’re actually communicating that’s what makes it funnier.  What’s great about the Minion language, while it is gibberish, it sounds real because Pierre puts in words from many languages and does the lion’s share of the Minion recordings.  There are a lot of food references. For example, ‘poulet tiki masala’ is French for the Indian chicken dish.”  Coffin is credited to have voiced five of the Minions, Tim, Bob, Mark, Phil, and Stuart.  Renaud did three Minion voice characters, Dave, Billy and Larry.

That’s why we say it’s everyone yet no one’s language.  It’s a mash-up of languages; a phrase or word of Japanese, Indian, English, French, Filipino, Spanish (and more) all pieced together to make one universal language.  Gibberish yes, yet very understandable.  This creative language by Coffin and Renaud is one of the reasons why the Despicable Me franchise is such a hit.  Fans are eager to hear a bit of their own language strewn anywhere in the movie and that’s why they keep asking for more.  Admit it, you were one of those millions who had LSS (last song syndrome) moments after hearing the Banana Song.

“togari noh pocato-li kani malo mani kano chi ka-baba, ba-ba-nana

yoh plano boo la planonoh too ma bana-na la-ka moobi talamoo

ba-na-na ba-ba (ba-ba-ba-ba-banana) POH-TAAA-TOH-OH-OH (ba-ba-ba-ba-banana)

togari noh pocato li kani malo mani kano chi ka-ba-ba, ba-ba-nanaaaaah!”


Who wouldn’t find this addictive and cute?!

To satiate this love (maybe even the addiction) for these little creatures, Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment announced April of 2012 that a spin-off film starring the Minions will be released.  (And the fans went wild!)  Finally, after almost two years, the long wait is over… we get a sneak peek of what the Minions are up to.

That’s a whole lot of Minionese.  Would there be a need for subtitles?  Or, should we all start getting the Best Buy MovieMode Minionator App that supposedly can translate Minionese?  Here’s a bit of the translation they made of the credits from the first Despicable Me movie.

 “I’m gonna reach the back row with this baby.”

“That’s a new record.”

“What up, audience? Share your popcorn and nachos.”

“You’re going down, skinny boy”

“In your face!  I can hear TWILIGHT in the next theater Team Jacob rules!”

“Sir, you’ve made a mockery of our noble contest.”

“I’m gonna puke on the audience!”

Hmm… interesting.  Well app or no app, whether you understand Minionese or not, judging by the trailer alone, it’s going to be one laugh out loud movie, thanks to the ingenious scripting and hysterical voice acting… “Tara tropa!”

The movie also stars Sandra Bullock as Scarlett Overkill, the over ambitious villain, John Hamm as her husband Herb Overkill,  Michael Keaton, Allison Jenney and Steve Coogan.  No spoilers yet if Gru or Fluffy will make an appearance.

Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment has scheduled the release of the movie summer of 2015.  (Yes, for those who don’t know yet, they have moved the schedule from December of this year to 10th of July, 2015.  Sad isn’t it!)  For the meantime, enjoy the trailer!

What are languages can you pick up from the Minionese?   Share what they mean.

Rana King

Rana King has presented marketing, sales, and writing seminars around the globe. She is also experienced in business-to-business copywriting and technical writing. She is also an accomplished voice actor with regular clients from around the globe.