New rules to prevent the spread of Covid mutant

Don’t “play your part” but: “flay your fart”; viral clip calls on public to alter speech to curb Covid.

Mark Brown www.theguardian.com 

We’re all familiar with the slew of precautions needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, but what about minding our Ps and Qs? Or, rather, our Ps, Ts and Cs.

With tongue firmly in cheek, a retired PR consultant and translator from Surrey has produced a viral video suggesting the government is to ban certain sounds and letters of the alphabet because they increase the transmission of Covid-19. Instead of “please take care”, we should say “flease nake lare”, the skit says.

Nonsense, of course. But funny. Like a Monty Python sketch, said one Twitter user. Haven’t laughed so hard in months, said another.

Peter Prowse made the video about three weeks ago, and it soon became popular in his wood-working and folk music WhatsApp groups. After the rapper Zuby and Radio 6 Music’s Tom Robinson shared the clip, it became something of a phenomenon.

Prowse purports to be a UK government official calmly telling people that consonants can project the virus much greater distances than vowels. Certain consonants, the plosive sounds, are much worse than others.

“Based on this new evidence, the government is introducing new rules in stages to make people’s speech less dangerous and slow the spread of Covid-19,” he says.

Prowse says that the “puh” sound will be replaced by “fuh”, “tuh” by “nuh” and “cuh” by “luh”. It will be done in tiers … or rather niers.

“Anyone speaking to other feople in a fublic flace will have to stof using the flosive sound,” he warns. “Failure to do so could lead to a fine or even frison. The whole fofulation, even members of farliament, will all have to flay their fart in this.”

Losing the “tuh” sound could be particularly challenging, he concedes. “For example neachers in schools … when neaching the nen nimes nable … we are confident that froblems will be nemforary and measures under nier nwo will help nurn the nide of this fandemic.”

The “cuh” ban would come in nier 3, the video says. “We have lonsidered these measures larefully in line with relommendations from frofessors at Lambridge University.”

Prowse, who lives in Ashtead, said he was astonished by how many people had seen his first attempt at YouTube satire.

It came about after a friend sent him an audio clip of a French comedian doing a similar skit. “I listened to it and it was hilarious. I thought it would be great if somebody translated that into English, but it’s untranslatable really so I just sat down and wrote something based on the same concept,” he said.

He posted it on YouTube. Zuby shared it with his followers and that post has been viewed more than 109,000 times. “It has been extraordinary,” Prowse said. “There have been some people who’ve ripped it off and seem to be claiming it as their own, but that’s the internet for you.”

The clip resonated because of the mixed messaging around coronavirus, he said. “There is a lot of satire around and it is quite hard to identify some of it as satire because it is only slightly more exaggerated than what we are getting from the government at the moment.

“It chops and changes, switches around, fails to foresee what’s obvious to everybody else, and tries to do something about it when it’s too late.”