Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ububbubi Dububbubi Ubis Dubead

Maybe those who speak it will hold on to it. Maybe it will be passed on to younger siblings. Perhaps, years from now, it will be passed on to another generation. It seems that for now, this kid-speak will fade into dormancy.
~ If you are confused, it is not surprising. If you have ever heard this "language" you know what it feels like to be confounded. This secret language is called Ubbi Dubbi. Yubou gubet ubit?
~ For the uninformed, Ubbi Dubbi is spoken on the PBS kid's show Zoom. Since the inception of the program in 1972, this gibberish-like kid-speak has been confusing many an adult ever since. It appears, however, that parents in the near future might be spared the mystery of Ubbi Dubbi. One day this week, Zoom will air its last original show, production having ended several weeks ago.
~ Ubbi Dubbi, pronounced with a short "u" as in tub, (think tubby dubby as a rhyme) can render English into an unitelligible alien language. It can be mastered by a six-year-old in about 10 minutes, but parents never quite get the hang of it. That drives them crazy, but for the pre-teen set it has become a secret code.
~ Actually it is quite simple. I find writing it much easier. But trying to speak it with even a meager degree of confidence, I fall short of success. By saying "ub" before every vowel sound you are speaking Ubbi Dubbi. By that reckoning, the title of this blog should now be easy to translate. If not, it is "Ubbi Dubbi is Dead!" The last sentence of the second paragraph becomes "You get it?"
~ Someday, who knows, but a team of linguists and anthropologists might come across strange writings while working on a dig of an ancient civilization. Imagine them trying to decipher a dead forgotten language. "Bubewubare ubof thube cuburse ubof Zuboom." How long would it take them to learn that it says "Beware of the curse of Zoom?" Maybe the scripts from TV shows will survive the eons. Maybe this blog will be recovered. What if this blog just happened to be their "Rosetta Stone?"
~ Douglas Belkin, a syndicated columnist wrote an article titled "Mouthing Off," which appeared in the Globe Magazine in the Sunday Boston Globe of May 1. (His article has a few excerpts appearing in this blog.) Belkin tried to track down the origins of Ubbi Dubbi. One source suggested it came from a planning session during the first or second season of Zoom. James Field, one of the original directors said no to that origin. He feels that it came from one of 10,000 letters a week from kids around the country. Another theory has it being created by Bill Cosby for his cartoon "Fat Albert." Also, it has been suggested that it sprang from a comedy routine of his, wherein he is a patient in a dentist's chair with a jaw full of novacaine.
~ But Henry Becton, President of WGBH, says he knew it as a kid in New Jersey some 20 years before Zoom ever aired. He said his father knew something like it in his childhood. It appears that it has been around in some form or another for the better part of four generations.

~ It appears, like Latin, Ubbi Dubbi will not fade out of existence.
~ In belkin's article, there was this Ubbi Dubbi tongue twister: "Tubo bube grubeat ubis tubo bube mubisubunduberstubood." Did you happen to figure out that it is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson? "To be great is to be misunderstood."
~ Before closing, let me leave this with you, with the knowledge of the soon-to-be-released "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith:" Mubay thube Fuborce bube wubith yubou!"
(Interested in someone whose first language is Ubbi Dubbi? This guy speaks it fluently (

~ No.132

1 comment:

blue said...

Truly sad news there. I grew up on "ZOOM", and also drove my parents nuts with Ubbi Dubbi. Zoom is one of the few PBS kids shows left from my childhood that is still on the air. Well, perhaps it will come back on some classic tv channel in a few years like The Electric Company did a few years ago on Noggin.

ubuntubil nubext tubimube...