Adriano Celentano’s fake English song explained: What does Prisencolinensinainciusol mean?

Bruno Cooke November 27, 2020
Adriano Celentano’s fake English song explained: What does Prisencolinensinainciusol mean?
Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

Described as the “auditory equivalent of a Rorschach painting”, Adriano Celentano’s fake English song “Prisencolinensinainciusol” is making a comeback. What does it mean?

Reddit has a habit of dredging up magic from the past. The re-emergence of Adriano Celentano’s bizarre fake English composition “Prisencolinensinainciusol” is a perfect example.

Who is Adriano Celentano?

Celentano is one of the biggest stars in Italy. He is an Italian singer-songwriter, actor, film director and musician. He is also a famously flexible dancer. AllMusicItalia nicknamed him “Springy”.

He is a prolific recording artist and has enjoyed commercial and critical success. He has also appeared in about 40 films, predominantly comedies. Many credit him with having introduced Rock’n’Roll to Italy.

His first screen appearance was in Ragazzi del Juke-Bo, a 1959 Italian musical. The following year, iconic film director Federico Fellini cast him as a rock and roll singer in La Dolce Vita.

In 1979, Ian Dury And The Blockheads listed Celentano as one of their “reasons to be cheerful” in the single “Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3”. 

In addition, Celentano is an ardent vegetarian and frequently defends animal rights – with one exception. He does not hold mosquitoes in very high regard.

Adriano Celentano’s fake English song goes viral (again)

Stylised for its 1972 single release as “PRİSENCÓLİNENSİNÁİNCIÚSOL”, Celentano’s fake English song has reemerged throughout the decades under various guises. The original version, however, is inimitable, and has a video to match.

In the UK, for example, it was given the simpler title of “The Language of Love (Prisencol…)”. Celentano also re-recorded a version of the song with real Italian lyrics in 1994. 

Then, in 2016, he released a new recording of the song, featuring music from electro house DJ Benny Benassi (“Satisfaction”) and a vocal track from Italian pop staple Mina (“Amor mio”).

What do the lyrics mean?

With the exception of the words “all right”, Prisencolinensinainciusol contains zero intelligible words. It is, on other words, complete gibberish – a jumble of nonsensical non-words. So, can it have meaning, if none of its lyrics do?

In a 2012 NPR interview with Guy Raz, Adriano Celentano said (via an interpreter) that he wanted to write a song “which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate”. It is, in essence, a truly fake English song.

“So to make a comparison, it’s like what happened with the Tower of Babel. Everyone wanted to go towards the sky, and they were punished because God confused all the languages and no one understood each other anymore. This is the reason why I wrote this song.”

The transcript of the interview is almost as fascinating as the song itself. Celentano sings: “Aye, eyes, my, san fran, and you go so to with peasle. Eyes. (Unintelligible) prisencolinensinainciusol. Alright.”

Adriano Celentano fake English song: Reddit reacts

Reddit users have resurrected the song frequently over the last few years, voicing some of the confusion native English speakers inevitably feel when hearing the song.

One said: “As an English speaker, it really bugs me because I feel like it’s so close to being words that my brain tries to understand, but it can’t and it’s killing me”.

Trying to make sense of out of the nonsense, several users contributed their own interpretations of the “lyrics”.

“And the children with giant shoes, yeah, they’re all right,” came through for me.

“And the cosmonauts and German novelists know it’s a sin, this jam.”

“With the sand and the sin, and the shoes they’re comin’ in, they ride the faith”

Some hear the influence of Elvis Presley, others hear Bob Dylan. What do you hear?

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.