Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • Everybody knows the Minions, the lovable little mischief-makers that star in the "Despicable Me" franchise.

  • The small yellow creatures live to be henchmen, trusted followers of the most villainous villain they can find.

  • That's why they serve anti-hero extraordinaire Gru.

  • Minions have a unique look, but what's even more unique is their language.

  • On the surface, it sounds like they're speaking complete gibberish, but if you listen closely, it's really an intricate and nuanced vocabulary.

  • Very nuanced.

  • Here's what it all means.

  • "Minionese", as it's known, is a constructed language created by "Despicable Me" co-directors Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud.

  • While it may sound like incoherent babbling, the practically indistinguishable words are actually a handcrafted dialect specifically designed for the Minions.

  • What?

  • Argh! What did I say?

  • Minionese is a combination of several real languages, including French, Italian, Spanish, Hindi, and Japanese, among others.

  • One example of how these words are blended together to create the jumbled language comes from "Despicable Me 2".

  • Uh... poulet tikka masala?

  • Masala?

  • The phrase he uses there is a combination of French and Hindi that describes the popular Indian-style chicken dish.

  • A lot of what Minions say consists of silly-sounding words strung together from various different languages with some actual gibberish thrown in.

  • So, no matter where you are in the world, you probably recognize something that comes out of the Minions' mouths.

  • Thank you.

  • It's not inconceivable that the Minions would know so many languages, considering their origin movie, the aptly-titled "Minions", established that they've been traveling the world since the beginning of time in search of the perfect villain to serve.

  • Why wouldn't they speak multiple dialects?

  • In addition to all the foreign languages the Minions use to express themselves, English is also in there, loud and clear.

  • In fact, "banana" is one of the Minions' favorite words.

  • Banana.

  • Banana!

  • There's usually a recognizable word or two thrown in every few sentences when Minions talk, which allows English-speaking viewers to feel as though they're following along.

  • Minions...

  • But that feeling of "Ah, I understood that!" isn't just for American audiences.

  • The filmmakers make sure the movies are dubbed so particular words and phrases still stand out.

  • That means that people all around the world can also have that "a-ha" moment when they watch the movie in their own languages.

  • There's more to Minionese than just words.

  • Like any other language, there's tone, body language, gestures, and expressions, among other things, that help convey a message.

  • When a Minion is happy, he may squeal, smile, and excitedly jump up and down.

  • When he's annoyed, he may mumble, cross his arms, and roll his eyes.

  • These are all pretty universal symbols of communication, so even the youngest kids in the audience can pick up on a Minion's feelings without trying too hard.

  • Also, context is very important in the "Minions" movies, as it helps make the language easier to understand.

  • An example is when the Minions run to an ice cream truck, chanting "gelato" in "Despicable Me 2".

  • Gelato!

  • Gelato... gelato... gelato.

  • That's Italian for "ice cream", and it's also the kind of word that probably sounds like gibberish to young ears, especially since the Minions kind of mispronounce it, but it totally fits in context.

  • As simple as it may seem, this helps you know what's going on without needing to fully understand what's being said.

  • Phonetics also comes into play.

  • Humans are wired to understand a word if it sounds similar to a word they're already familiar with.

  • When Gru orders some of his Minions to replace a toy unicorn for Agnes, the Minionese word they use rhymes with toy and conveys that they understand their mission.

  • Papoy?

  • No, no, no, no, no. Papoy.

  • Ah, papoy!

  • There may be thousands of Minions, but for the most part, only one man voices themPierre Coffin, who also co-directed several of the movies.

  • While Coffin and fellow director Chris Renaud both created the Minions' language and contributed voices to the characters at first, Coffin quickly became the go-to guy.

  • By the time "Minions" came out, he was the sole voice of the creatures.

  • Coffin didn't originally intend to take on such a big role outside of directing.

  • But the ball quickly started rolling when, during the early stages of the original film's production, he made a test voice-over to demonstrate how the Minions should sound and the producers immediately handed the job over to him.

  • The rest, of course, is Minion history.

  • If things had gone differently, however, Coffin may not have had the chance to develop the Minions' bizarre language because the Minions weren't always supposed to be so cute.

  • In fact, during the early stages of the first film, they were supposed to be big, ugly brutes.

  • Coffin told "The Guardian", "We quickly realized that they were very unappealing and made Gru a totally unsympathetic anti-hero."

  • "To make him charming, we had this idea that he'd know all of his little helpers by their forenames, even though there were hundreds, and suddenly, Gru was sympathetic."

  • "And from that first scene, we knew the Minions gave the other characters counter-balance, had great comedic potential, and were super cute."

  • Alright, everygo, go, go to bed.

  • Thanks for watching.

  • Click the links in our video to watch more from Netflix Film Club.

  • Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get the latest exclusive videos.

  • Plus, hit the bell so you don’t miss a single one.

Everybody knows the Minions, the lovable little mischief-makers that star in the "Despicable Me" franchise.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US coffin despicable language minion gelato banana

The Minions' Language In Despicable Me Explained | Netflix

  • 919 42
    Elise Chuang posted on 2021/12/30
Video vocabulary