The first line of the minions: "One, two..."
Latin script (English alphabet)
Minionese, or often referred as Minion Language or Banana Language, is an constructed language used by the Minions.
Minionese appears to be a polyglot language, which borrows words and - such as they are - grammatical rules from many different languages. Minionese contains some elements of English, with words like "Banana", "Bapple" (apple, basically "Apple" with "B"), and "Potato". (Minions are, as has been shown many times, particularly obsessed with food.)
In addition, Minionese also contains words from other languages such as Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Filipino (Tagalog), French and Russian, including Spanish-sounding words like "para tú" (roughly "for you") and "la boda" ("the wedding"), French (poulet tikka masala, et pis c'est tout, roughly "chicken tikka masala, and that's all"), Russian words such as "да" (Da, "yes"), Japanese (kanpai/乾杯, translating to "cheers") and Korean words such as "Hana (하나), Dul (둘), Sae (From Set [셋]" meaning "One, Two, Three"), and many other languages. In Minions, new Minionese words were heard from the minions, such as “Tropa" in Tagalog and Spanish which means a group of friends. Also, some words such as "Papoy" (toy) are unique to Minionese.
No non-Minion character has ever been heard to speak Minionese directly, although some characters (most notably Gru) can understand it anyway. The Minions can also understand English although none of them have ever been heard to actually speak it. All of the Minionese heard in the films was created and voiced by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, the directors of the Despicable Me movies.
Minions can also be frequently heard repeating words they hear, most notably names, during which they sometimes suffer from minor single-letter speech impediments such as "Scarlet Popapil" in place of "Scarlet Overkill," which is heard both from Kevin at the 1968 Villain-Con and from an unnamed Minion in the ice cave. Further, though "bello" seems to be the most common form of greeting, some (such as Stuart while attempting to flirt with a fire hydrant) can be clearly heard saying "hello" along with the appropriate mouth movements, indicating that some of their words may simply be speech impediments possessed by the majority of Minions.
This leads to the possibility that some of their words that are only slightly different from a word in another language with similar meaning and use are merely the result of word imitation and widely-held single-letter speech impediments, which further suggests that some of their words could have multiple variants based on which version of the commonly held speech impediments the Minion speaking possesses, or if the Minion possesses a speech impediment for the letters being used at all.
In addition, some seemingly Minionese-unique words or words from other languages that are used in Minionese in ways they wouldn't normally be used can be understood partially from their context. So, all of these being nonsense, one must take this sentence largely in context.
- "Buddies" is always used by Minions towards other Minions or individuals who resemble them, such as when King Bob orders all of his guards be dressed as Minions, indicating that in Minionese it takes on the additional meaning of friendship solely within their own species.
- "Boss" and "Big Boss" take on deeper meanings than their English variants in Minionese to refer not just to an employer but the individual creature that the entire Minion tribe serves. The word also takes on the connotation of referring to a villainous or dangerous individual.
- While starving on a boat during their 1968 journey from the ice cave to New York, Bob points at his mouth and states "Matoka" after his stomach growls. This is followed by Stuart stating "Pola nola Matoka" (possibly meaning "we're all hungry" or "we all need food") prior to attempting to eat Bob and Kevin and finally Bob stating "matoka" prior to attempting to eat Kevin. Contextually, this would indicate that "Matoka" is either the word for hunger or food in Minionese.
- When Stuart is flirting with a fire hydrant in 1968 New York, he can be clearly heard saying "Hello papagena, tu le bella con la papaya."
- One possible interpretation is that Stuart is intending "papagena" (sometimes also written as "papaguena") to be a standard greeting for an attractive female, such as "baby" in English. This would indicate that either it is a Minionese-unique word or that the name of the character Papagena (a kind of female bird-person, from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's The Magic Flute) became one of their words for an attractive woman.
- "Bella" seems borrowed from Italian meaning beautiful, but the other words in the sentence would make little sense if they were also Italian as the phrase would translate roughly to "thou beautiful with papaya." From Spanish this sentence would mean "you beautiful with the papaya". In short, the meaning would be "Hello, papagena (attractive woman), you are as beautiful as a/the papaya".
- Being as we know little about Minion society, it would be hard to say in context what the standard uses of "le," "la," and "con" may be, but it appears that Minions either consider papayas attractive or that the word "papaya" is used here as a Minionese-unique word with a different meaning.
- "Blumock" can be understood contextually, possibly a Minionese derogatory word towards a person similar to the English words for cursing. The word is used several times by Kevin:
- Being ignored by a passing pedestrian while asking how to get to Orlando,
- He mocks Stuart after he fails to hitchhike correctly,
- He is locked in a dungeon underneath the Buckingham Palace.
- In Minionese, some words are apparently borrowed from Asian languages (such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean).
- Kampai - Phil and Kevin cheer with bananas at El Macho's Lair in Despicable Me 2, and the word is closed to Japanese 乾杯/かんぱい (Kan-pai, "cheers").
- Yakitori - Kevin speaks when he's about to run in Minions. It's a Japanese word 焼き鳥 ("grilled chicken")
- Naje - The Minions say this when passing fruit to produce Mr. Gru's Old Fashioned Jelly in Despicable Me 2; the word is close to the pronunciation of Chinese phrase 拿著 (Na-je, "take it").
- Gulleno - Stuart tries to catch an old lady for hitchhiking, in addition to "Stopa, topa", this is one of the words he says, which is closed to a Korean phrase 그래 너 (Keu-lae neo, "Yeah, [I'm talking to] you").
- Terima Kasih - Bob thanks the Queen for the crown for his Teddy bear in Minions. This is the same term used in Indonesian and Malay to mean "thank you".
- As seen in Despicable Me 3, Gru has a dictionary of Minionese but he is actually not good at speaking them, and when he tries, the Minions burst out laughing of his words.