I'm a bit surprised that two mods endorse closing...

What does that mean: "my toes speak English"?

...citing "Lack of context". After failing to find the exact text in Google Books, I searched the whole Internet, and found just one instance - on someone's Facebook page.

BUT when I (reluctantly - I don't like FB) followed the link from Google, I couldn't actually find the text myself (buried somewhere in a Read more... post, I guess). I've added a screenshot giving the limited amount of context from the Google search "snippet view", but imho the intended meaning was obvious without even that.

So far as I'm concerned, it's a typically Anglophone "whimsical coinage" building on established idioms like My little finger knows more than your head (you're really dumb). I don't know if any other languages make such superficially nonsensical assertions involving body parts - but even if they all did, I'm not convinced that would justify closing the question.

  • m.youtube.com/… 0:22 This is the context Jul 11 at 20:15
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  • ironically, the OP actually posted an answer which provided the source but a mod converted it into a comment. Ironic, because the link to the YouTube clip shows that the "whimsical coinage" was not the fruit of a highly competent Anglophone speaker.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 11 at 22:28
  • @Mari-LouA: I have to disagree. I don't know who the actress is, but I've no reason to suppose she and the character she plays aren't well-spoken native Anglophones. The transcription is accurate, and most of the humour derives from the "audio pun" which alludes to similar idioms. The mods have really screwed up on this one. Won't you vote to undelete the "link" answer here? Jul 12 at 2:51

1 Answer 1


Without context, the original question is not a good one because there are many reasons someone could say "My toes speak English." It's not a common idiomatic phrase like "My little finger knows more than your head" or "I feel it in my toes", so it requires context for us to confidently say what it means. Without context, any answer will be merely guessing at what someone would probably have meant if indeed anyone actually said it.

And it's clear to me --and so far to everyone but you-- that nobody ever said those words. The actress says, "Um, I totally speak English", but in such a way that you could mishear it as, "My toes speak English", but that's not what she says. Situations like this is exactly why I supported deleting the question in the first place.

As for the deleted answer, it contains only a link to the video, so it is not a response to your Meta question of whether the main site question should be deleted. The link is comment-worthy, or perhaps content that should be edited into your question. Either way, it's not an answer, and should stay deleted too.

  • Apparently almost no-one hears My toes speak English apart from me, the OP, and whoever's Facebook post I originally added to the Q. So if it was a clever piece of scripting, the wit was largely wasted. On the other hand, it is an incredible coincidence if at least three of us heard that, and at least one (probably two, I assume the FB poster "got" it) saw the funny side of it. It's this dogged refusal to accept the possibility of humorous intent that I find frustrating here. Jul 12 at 17:57
  • ...I half suspect I'm getting the cold shoulder because nobody likes to think they're too dumb to get a joke, so they deny there's a joke in the first place. Jul 12 at 18:00
  • @FumbleFingers If the original script was "My toes speak English", it's a more incredible coincidence that the way that actor happened to pronounce it sounds exactly like "Um, I totally speak English", which is a far more likely thing for that character to say in that context. So I half suspect you don't want to agree you misheard it on account of being prompted to hear it wrong by the OP. When I first watched that clip, even though I was listening for something about "toes", I didn't hear it. I had to watch it several times trying to mishear it before I could hear the "toes" version
    – gotube Mod
    Jul 12 at 22:45
  • You continue not to understand my perspective. Even if I was the only person on the planet that (thought I) heard "toes", the joke worked for me. I believe the joke was scripted, and unless the scriptwriting team explicitly denied that, I would continue to adopt that position. Jul 12 at 23:37
  • @FumbleFingers I do understand your perspective: you believe "toes" was in the script. My perspective is that that's such an odd thing to say that it requires evidence that that's the case. FWIW, I too think that would have been a funny line there.
    – gotube Mod
    Jul 13 at 19:56
  • I can live with things on that basis. I really do think it was scripted, but at the end of the day, maybe it's just a Zen paradox (is a joke still a joke if no-one gets it?) But I will find it a bit galling if the question (hanging by a thread with 4 VTC's for a second closure) now gets trashed. Who knows? In years to come, one of the scriptwriters might chance by here and set the record straight. It would be a bit of a downer if the scriptwriter thought that was one of his best ever lines, and ELL had summarily closed the question about it! :) Jul 14 at 0:03

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