French can be a lovely language: mellifluous, romantic, and even melodic.
When spoken in the voice of a nightmarish demon baby, however, it is none of those things.
"French pronunciation" is a YouTube channel that was set up in May 2015. As of this writing it has uploaded 1200 videos offering audio guidance on how to pronounce words in the French language. They are all horrifying.
Right now those videos have cumulatively garnered only 2,604 views, or just a little over 2 views per video. That could be due to difficulties in YouTube's algorithm, or a lack of content, or little interest. I prefer to think it's because every one of the pronunciations is read in the same unnerving, computerized baby voice:
A sidebar on each video points the viewer to Imagiers.net, a website belonging to a man named Vincent, who offers to "be your personal French teacher." Vincent seems to have been putting French lessons online for several years, and has a separate (seemingly popular) YouTube channel. But earlier this year he, or someone using his website's URL, decided the world of French language learning needed more unfathomable fear.
Every video posted to French pronunciation is nearly identical: all that changes is the word being pronounced, which sits center screen, always off to the left of a stock photo of a young woman in a black shirt who stares out at you. According to dreamstime.com the photo is titled "Portrait of smiling sexy woman looking at camera." Does the scary voice belong to her? Does it belong to anyone? Can we truly know anything in a world in which this voice exists?
It has become impossible for me to say.
All I know now are French phrases, whispered into my ear by a tiny demon.
The demon haunts my dreams.
It fills my waking hours with questions about the nature of the world itself.
It's destabilized all I know about reality.
But hey, at least my French is getting pretty good. :)
Ethan Chiel is a reporter for Fusion, writing mostly about the internet and technology. You can (and should) email him at email@example.com