User:Umbire the Phantom/Word Salad Horror

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    For the first time we have risen, and I see we are being consumed. I see circles that are not circles. Billions of dead souls inside containment. Unravellers have eaten country's moral fabric, turning hearts into filth. I'm from a kingdom level above human. What does that yield? A hokey smile that damns an entire nation.

    There is no hope.

    Word Salad Humor is great - sometimes there's nothing to get a laugh out of you like a well-timed, carefully arranged stream of utter nonsense.

    ...Until it starts to make sense.

    Too much sense.

    And now you wish you could unhear it - you've discovered Word Salad Horror.

    In the most basic sense, where Word Salad Humor attempts to be funny, this sister trope instead derives Surreal Horror by using a string of seemingly random gibberish to induce Mood Whiplash. The core trait is that it's just coherent enough to imply an ominous or disturbing hidden meaning; this is sometimes done by the speaker becoming alarmingly coherent and/or lucid - not completely so, but enough to provide a stark context to the rest of their dialogue. It can include a word(s) or phrase(s) that's a cause for concern in context (assuming context is necessarily present in that scenario). Additionally, "standard" word salad itself can be the source of horror if used in such a way to provoke Mood Dissonance, such as having character(s) speak in word salad while invoking fear through other methods - this can be especially effective if it is no more intelligible than it was previously, though it takes a fair amount of skill to avoid Narm with this.

    Not to be confused with an abomination made of word salad - though that would arguably fit and likely constitute a Brown Note.

    Examples of Umbire the Phantom/Word Salad Horror include:


    Anime and Manga


    Comic Books

    Fan Works



    Live-Action TV


    New Media

    Newspaper Comics

    Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends



    Professional Wrestling

    Puppet Shows


    Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

    Tabletop Games


    • Some of the Eldritch Abominations warring for power in Hatchetfield speak like this. They require a human representative to translate what they want. Wiggly and Blinky are the exceptions, but no one can understand Nibbly in "Honey Queen" when he finally appears. Hannah also talks like this sometimes, when she's having ominous visions courtesy of Webby. Case in point, saying, "Don't go. Two doors, not one."

    Video Games

    • Five Nights at Freddy's features this on Night 5. After Phone Guy is killed while leaving a voicemail for you, the phone rings again. When the phone answers, you hear backwards speech. It's an excerpt from Autobiography of a Yogi about the principles of infusing metal with life.
    • EarthBound has the backwards-talking inhabitants of Moonside. There's naturally also the Final Boss, the freshly-turned Eldritch Abomination Giygas, and his infamous gibberish.

    Visual Novels

    Web Animation

    Web Comics

    Web Original

    • SCP Foundation:
      • SCP-058 ("Heart of Darkness") is a mobile creature resembling a bovine heart with four arthropod-like legs and a stinger; it is somehow capable of speaking in the deep voice of an old British man, despite lacking a mouth or any apparent means of producing sound. It talks nonsense constantly and without changing in tone, even when attacking - which is very often - and the only thing consistent about said nonsense is its nihilistic bent; the transcript of Interview 058-04 has a line at the end that's almost worthy of Marquis de Sade. One of the many stories on-site creates and explores a connection between it and the next example, and shows why you shouldn't listen to it for more than half an hour.
      • SCP-1981 ("RONALD REGAN CUT UP WHILE TALKING") is an anamolous Betamax home video recording of the 40th President of the US delivering his "Evil Empire" speech - transcripts of the recording (which is pretty damned disturbing in itself) provides the page quote among various other examples of this trope.
      • SCP-2852 ("Cousin Johnny") is a Humanoid Abomination that is made up of fibrous muscular tissue and chitin - despite the lack of vocal cords or analogous organs, instances can still speak, though they lack a concept of language and speak in utter gibberish. People attending the religious functions it manifests at that aren't aware of its nature can understand them perfectly, and describe them as being playful with a crude sense of humor - however, they don't truly become instances of Word Salad Horror until White- or Black-Level events occur.

    Western Animation

    • Gravity Falls
      • "Boyz Crazy": Dipper investigates when his rival Robbie convinces Wendy to not break up with him after playing a song on a boombox. After fiddling with the recording when Grunkle Stan transfers it to a vinyl record, Dipper realizes that if you play it backwards, it's a brainwashing spell. Dipper selfishly frees Wendy from the brainwashing before Robbie engages in a make-out session. with her, and proceeds to try asking her out. He finds out the hard way that girls don't want to be seen as available or unavailable, and Wendy stalks off after turning him down.
      • A plot point: McGucket in "Society of the Blind Eye" and "A Tale of Two Stans" says something that sounds like gibberish. It's actually " Bill Cipher triangle". During the former flashback, McGucket had completely lost his mind after . In the second flashback, McGucket recited it after he and Stanford's test run of the portal led to him seeing the other side of it, as well as this ominous poem: "What gravity falls and earth becomes sky, beware the beast with just one eye.". Indeed, Journal 3 confirms that Bill deliberately messed with McGucket's mind to continue his plans without interference.

    Other Media

    Real Life