What does "my toes speak English" mean? From GLEE - Full Performance of ''Telephone'' from ''Audition'' at 0:22: A woman thought that one another don't speak English and the other woman replied "my toes speak English" or maybe I misheard it.
Sometimes the likeliest answer is the most boring.
Which of these statement makes greater sense? Which line uttered by the actress portraying Sunshine is most likely?
- My toes speak English
- I totally speak English
Admittedly at first hearing, I thought the protagonist did say sentence no.1 then I listened again, with proper speakers and even though the line is muffled, and syllables are dropped there is no earthly way that any Hollywood director or script writer would have approved of such a nonsensical line. Simply because Glee is not that kind of tongue-in-cheek indy-comedy. If this were a sketch by Month Python, it would be more believable because many sketches were surreal and plain silly. This scene is devoid of clever puns, witty retorts and biting commentary. The acting is pretty embarrassing too, but I digress, here are the lines reproduced from Glee Wiki .
RACHEL: Oh hello! I couldn't help but notice you admiring me yesterday in the courtyard.
SUNSHINE: Um, what?
RACHEL: Oh you don't speak English. YOU-LIKE-ME-SING! YOU-LIKE-ME-SING-VERY-MUCH! SUNSHINE: Um, I totally speak English.
RACHEL: I even did a little research on you. You are a foreign exchange student named Sunshine Corazon because you are from the Philippines where it's sunny every day!»
Sunshine says "Um, I totally speak English." The second "t" of "totally" is slightly swallowed/a very very soft "d." The "ly" is very fast, but it is present if you listen carefully.
Sunshine's response isn't intended to be a funny line in itself, just to point out Rachel's over the top racism in assuming that Sunshine can't speak English and then shouting "You like me sing, you like very much," which is intended to be the funny part. The humor on Glee was primarily based on outrageous statements and actions by the characters.
Here are two separate transcription sites which have the correct line. Additionally, per Billy Kerr's comment, the official transcription on Disney+ also has "Um, I totally speak English."
I never accepted that "lack of context" was an acceptable closevote reason for this question, but now we have got the full context (0.22), it's potentially even more confusing.
So far as I'm concerned, the woman in that clip very precisely enunciates My toes speak English, and that's what the OP here is asking about, so it's nothing to do with "mis-hearing". The question to be asked is why would she say that, given it's not an established idiom (so superficially it looks like nonsense)?
The context is a comedy, and from what I could make out, the woman who says the line seems to be intelligent, articulate, and clear-spoken. She's responding to another clear-spoken native Anglophone who (for the purposes of humour) appears to be unintelligent (and thinks the first woman knows little English).
I think there's no doubt that My toes speak English is intended to allude1 to I totally speak English, but imho that wouldn't be enough to justify the scriptwriters including the line. To me, it's a typically Anglophone "whimsical coinage" building on established idioms like...
My little toe knows more English than you! (your English is terrible)
My little finger knows more than your head (you're really dumb)
I'm English from head to toe (I'm totally English, through and through)
1 It's only an allusion, and the line would still be funny if you didn't notice the ambiguity (whichever version you think you heard). I don't really understand how anyone could seriously think they hear the woman saying I totally, given how clearly she speaks - and that toes is one syllable, whereas totally is three syllables. It's not as subtle as the McGurk Effect - where you hear what you expect to hear (far or bar depending on whether you see the speaker's upper teeth). But it's in that general territory.
EDIT: I was distracted by people claiming the actress says totally. She's actually saying totes (as in “I totes knew he liked you!”)2, but the second /t/ is deliberately underarticulated to blur the distinction between Um... I totes speak and Er... My toes speak. It's still an auditory pun, partly "licensed" by existing idiomatic uses of fingers and toes.