August 1, 2013 Jill

Are you following what’s going on with the YouTube Channel, Pronunciation Book?

For the last three years, the channel has been posting videos on how to pronounce common and not-so-common English words and phrases. Frequently, the channel’s choice of pronunciation is debatable. But what’s interesting is that sometimes the words and phrases seem to suggest that the speaker is telling us about more than pronunciation.

How to Pronounce Zoology

What’s really interesting is that sometimes the words and phrases seem to suggest that the speaker is telling us about more than pronunciation.

How to Describe an Unpleasant Memory in English

On July 9th, the channel abruptly changed what it was doing and started a count down.

How to Pronounce 77
How to Pronounce 76

A new video is posted every day at 10 am Eastern.  We seem to be counting down to September 24, 2013.  But why?  And who is behind it? These are mysteries that more and more people around the net are interested in.  There’s a 4chann and reddit, a Google doc, a wiki and a blog all devoted to deciphering the mystery.

In my opinion, this is a story.  Someone is using the Pronunciation Book channel as a form for story telling.  The story is coming out in a fractured, nonlinear way.  But it is definitely a story with characters, drama and emotion.  It’s pretty impressive that this has been on a slow boil for three years, but still in all, if you collect phrases from the videos you get narrative.  This selection of phrases from the count down video is from the 77 Days Wiki.

  • 77 : “Something is going to happen in 77 days.”
  • 76 : “I’ve been trying to tell you something for 1,183 days.”
  • 75 : “I’m awake now. Things are clearing up. I’m not saying the words anymore.”
  • 74 : “I’ve got a minute, let me tell you what I think is going on.”
  • 73 : “Tension between the districts has spiked in the last few months.”
  • 72 : “You can see it in the markets. Everyone’s ready for a storm.”
  • 71 : “They’re singing a new song in the streets of the zone.”
  • 70 : “I have plenty of information to keep me company.”
  • 69 : “No one is ready. He watches the market.”
  • 68 : “I’m not talking about a disaster. I’m talking about a love triangle.”
  • 67 : “We fell into the jungle for a summer of dollar crime.”
  • 66 : “We were young heroes, gorgeous liars.”
  • 65 : “Turn off the lights and drink a cold glass of water.”
  • 64 : “No one is singing; Every day is the same.”
  • 63 : “We should’ve listened to Chief.”
  • 62 : “She’s waiting for me, I have to find her system.”
  • 61 : “Stressful day? Play some volleyball.”
  • 60 : “Her house has rooms she’s never been in.”
  • 59 : “A gemstone on a schedule.”
  • 58 : “He flew us in low. Just above the canopy.”
  • 57 : “A delicate pairing … is a heart-breaker.”
  • 56 : “Omelettes aren’t the only western food.”
  • 55 : “When we were born, we saw shapes and patterns.”
These phrases taken from different videos were collected on the Google Doc:

I can’t RSVP until I have a disguise.
We arrived at the brasserie dressed as caterers.
Her svelte figure caught the minister’s eye, just as Chief predicted.
Jackie was lucky no one picked up on his accent.
She served pepperoncini with a tight smile as I photographed documents in the kitchen.
The minister recoils from the gaudy Merlot pairing … is our cover blown?
We had no idea we were enabling the oogenesis of a new power.
The gala was ruined by jealous love.
We retreated to the jungle as fireworks lit the southern sky.
It was the first of several times Jackie would blame things on Belarus.
I lay in the hammock at base, dreaming of LA.
We would resume our reconnaissance in the morning; for now, we tried to forget about the mission.
This is all I was able to procure,’ she said, producing a bottle of Dom Pérignon.
Glyph sulked in his tent as the rest of us gathered for pinochle.
Chief, who had posed as a waiter, said Lasso had been seated at the president’s table.
I finished the last of the now-warm champagne and said goodnight.
She stumbled into my tent an hour later, surprisingly tipsy for a femme fatale.
Eventually, I yield to uneasy jungle dreams.

I have no doubt that this is storytelling.

Those researching Pronunciation Book have discovered that the channel is a YouTube partner, which tells me that this is the work of a pro.  This is a money-making venture.  And as the count down continues, the numbers of viewers is growing rapidly and so too, the revenues.

There are a lot of theories about Pronunciation Book and you can read about all of them on the wiki.  Some say it’s a marketing effort for a game or TV series  –The Battlestar Gallactica reboot is a favourite theory.  I’m still fond of the theory that the band Nine Inch Nails is behind this as a way of promoting their new album.  They did such and amazing job with Year Zero and I believe they might have the patience to let something like this play out for three years.  I’m dying to hear some new and fresh theories.  Share yours with me, please!

I’ve been following this for a couple of weeks now and from an entertainment POV, the one teeny video a week is way too slow. I’m bored, I want more and soon.  But if you look at the slow build and its usefulness in building audience and awareness, you have got to take off your hat to whoever is behind this.  Totally awesome!  There is still lots of time before we hit blast off for the mainstream to clue in.
It’s also an absolutely amazing form of storytelling.  I love the way the story emerges inside the form of the pronunciation video.  It reminds me a little of how You Suck At Photoshop used the format of the photoshop how-to video to tell a story.
I bow to the brilliance of whoever is doing this and I can’t wait for the end game to reveal itself.
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