Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

How to sound precocious

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Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins

We decided we’re going to write a song which is really an obnoxious song, because when we were kids we used to make up these obnoxious words, like “coba-floba-flobolous” or something—it means absolutely nothing, and people would say “What? What does that mean?” And we’d say, “Ah, it’s a secret word…” And people would be mystified.

So we said “We gotta do something obnoxious.” But “obnoxious” is not a very nice word, and since it’s an English nanny it should be “atrocious,” there you go, so we wanted a super-colossal atrocious word—so there’s part of the song already, super-colossal-atrocious…What rhymes with atrocious? “Precocious”—you’re smart! So there we had “precocious,” “atrocious,” and “docious”—why not? It rhymes…So then something really ridiculous—”califragilistic”—it sounds like something great. So we finally put together the word. So I’ve summarized there in one sentence what took us two weeks.

Richard M. Sherman

Written by nevalalee

August 29, 2015 at 7:26 am

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