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It's Meep Meep, dammit!
January 29, 2009 6:12 PM   Subscribe

Does Roadrunner say "Beep Beep" or "Meep Meep?"

Help me settle an argument. What's he saying? I say "Meep Meep." What do you think? Is there any official source that answers this age old question?
posted by yellowbinder to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
I will admit that when I was younger (but not anywhere near as young as you would think) I played the road runner in a kids play. I said "Mee beep" because that is what it always sounded like to me. Might be dialect differences of course...
posted by wittgenstein at 6:14 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's an episode called "To Beep or Not to Beep". Wikipedia also says: In Soup or Sonic, the "beep, beep" of the Road Runner is also given the pseudo-Latin name beepus-beepus.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:16 PM on January 29, 2009


There was a Roadrunner cartoon entitled Beep, Beep.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:18 PM on January 29, 2009


Googled, road runner beep beep, 1st hit
posted by GleepGlop at 6:24 PM on January 29, 2009


I can't site it, but I'm pretty sure there was also a cartoon where he held up one of those cartoon signs that said "meep meep". He might be saying "beep beep", but he pronounces it "meep meep."
posted by gjc at 6:27 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


gjc, thank you! I'm overwhelmed by the beep beep answers. I know that he's beeping, but the words that come out sound like meep to me!
posted by yellowbinder at 6:29 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd want to be with you, yellowbinder, but at 0:44 of this clip, the caption is pretty definitive.
posted by rokusan at 6:31 PM on January 29, 2009


My ears hear 'meep meep', regardless of captions and titles.
posted by goo at 6:47 PM on January 29, 2009


gjc: He might be saying "beep beep", but he pronounces it "meep meep."

I guess that's just how things are in Roadrunnerese.
posted by aquafortis at 6:53 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maybe it depends if you're looking when he says it.
posted by Wet Spot at 7:03 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


M and B are both bilabial sounds (eponysterical, I know!). So, in some places that don't use the M or the B in particular situations (I am toooooo tired to do any real looking around for this) one may replace the other without sounding "wrong."

So, with that in mind, it makes sense that some hear "meep" and others hear "beep."

For the record, I hear "meep."
posted by bilabial at 7:14 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


I totally hear "meep meep". No two ways about it.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:30 PM on January 29, 2009


I'm certainly hearing a meep meep there.

It would be interesting to play it to someone who had not read this nor the caption on the clip. Even better would be to play it for someone who hadn't seen Road Runner before.

What if we got something like Dragon Voice to take dictation from it and see what it said? Not that Dragon Voice is anywhere close to 100% accurate but it maybe an interesting and unbiased test.

Failing that, does anyone have any relatives of Mel Blanc or Chuck Jones in their rolodex?
posted by Man_in_staysis at 7:34 PM on January 29, 2009


Not that unattributed Wikipedia is exactly the height of reliability, but:

Although commonly quoted as "meep meep", Warner Brothers, the current owner of all trademarks relating to the duo, lists "beep, beep" as the Road Runner's sound.

Link.
posted by rokusan at 7:52 PM on January 29, 2009


When the "meep" people and the "beep" people begin slaughtering each other, I'll have to make my stand with the meep-ers - regardless of what the world's largest media conglomerate (by market capitalization) has to say about it.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:11 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


Mrs. Beese agrees with me. I knew I married her for a reason.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:17 PM on January 29, 2009


I'm with the meepers too, even though all the logical evidence I find says beep. Meepers are romantic fools.
posted by rokusan at 8:21 PM on January 29, 2009 [4 favorites]


Meep Meep. My best friend's younger cousins didn't know that he was called Road Runner, and they always referred to him as "The Meep Meep."
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:48 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Meep.
posted by Miko at 9:03 PM on January 29, 2009


Rokusan's YT clip puts it beyond dispute. It's there in black and white, meep-ists. There is no discussion, it's a matter of being correct or being in error.
You might as well argue that salvation can only be attained through faith alone. It's just wrong.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:08 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but the question isn't "what do the captions say" but what does the Roadrunner say. It might say "beep beep," but he's pronouncing it "meep meep," in his character voice.
posted by Miko at 9:23 PM on January 29, 2009




If you're on the highway and Road Runner goes beep beep.
Just step aside or might end up in a heap.
Road Runner, Road Runner runs on the road all day.
Even the coyote can't make him change his ways.

Road Runner, the coyote's after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you're through.
Road Runner, the coyote's after you.
Road Runner, if he catches you you're through.

That coyote is really a crazy clown,
When will he learn he can never mow him down?
Poor little Road Runner never bothers anyone,
Just runnin' down the road's his idea of having fun.


While the sound the Roadrunner may be called a beep, it sounds to me like a meep.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:29 PM on January 29, 2009


The sound is called a "beep" the same way a dog's sound can be described as a bark or a ruff without sounding exactly like that ...jeezus, what am I doing? I have to get up early tomorrow.
posted by bonobothegreat at 9:32 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


+1 meep. I swear it's distinctly the "m" sound. But if you say it fast enough, it sounds like "Meep Beep". Hey, let's have it both ways!
posted by curagea at 9:42 PM on January 29, 2009


Meep. Obviously.

And from Toonopedia:

"The first cartoon to feature his vocal work was Picador Porky, directed by Tex Avery and released March 13, 1937.

From then on, it was upward all the way. Speedy Gonzales, Tasmanian Devil, Pepe LePew, Marvin the Martian … Mel Blanc did them all — even the characteristic "Meep Meep" of The Road Runner."

posted by Aquaman at 9:53 PM on January 29, 2009


And the tongue flickering was a series of corks in bottles, strung together and yanked out in quick sucession by the foley guys. Awesome!
posted by Aquaman at 9:57 PM on January 29, 2009 [8 favorites]


I can't site it, but I'm pretty sure there was also a cartoon where he held up one of those cartoon signs that said "meep meep". He might be saying "beep beep", but he pronounces it "meep meep."

Before clicking onto this page, I was thinking the exact same thing. But it's been a long time so that memory just might be colored by the belief that he actually said "meep," even if the WB folks insisted otherwise. There might also have been a more recent commercial for the Road Runner broadband service where he holds up a sign saying (I would assume) "beep beep." But I concede that that one YouTube link clears up what the official company line was.

I think it's sort of like the case of a singer mangling the pronunciation of a word in a song, when even the official lyrics plainly say what the singer should be saying (are you reading this, John Fogerty?)
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:07 PM on January 29, 2009


Meep. Meep. Muthafuckers.
posted by lalochezia at 11:39 PM on January 29, 2009


Failing that, does anyone have any relatives of Mel Blanc or Chuck Jones in their rolodex?

*raises hand*

Chuck was my grandfather's best friend, and for many years was essentially my sister's and my honorary uncle. The best Thanksgiving I ever spent was with Chuck AND Mel at the dinner table; it was a little like getting to live inside a Looney Toons cartoon for an afternoon, except about a million times better.

Anyway, based on this, I can confirm that the words written in Chuck's own hand are indeed Beep Beep. Having had the Road Runner himself pass me the gravy, however, I can confirm that he pronounced it Meep Meep.
posted by scody at 11:40 PM on January 29, 2009 [303 favorites]


Possibly helpful: There was an episode that featured two little kids watching RR on television, and one of them kept saying "I wanna be a road runner when I grow up! MEEP MEEP ZIP DANG!"
posted by jbickers at 4:36 AM on January 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm with you, Joe Beese and rokusan. Man the meeping barricades!
posted by MadMage at 5:01 AM on January 30, 2009


I have this as text message sound on my cell phone. It's definitely "meep meep".
posted by leigh1 at 5:06 AM on January 30, 2009


I definitely hear "Meep meep".

If you think about it, too, animal calls rarely are spelled the way they sound. We say that the noise a cat makes is "meow", but if you were to really render that noise phonetically, it would be more like "mrow" or "mao". We say pigs say "oink", but really it's more like "weeee weee". Bird's calls don't sound anything like "chirp" or "tweet". Horses don't actually sound like "neigh". Sheep don't sound like "baa".

So the "beep beep"/"meep meep" difference makes sense, in a strange way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 AM on January 30, 2009


Paul Julian provided the inspiration for the Road Runner's sound, as well as the voice. It's Julian, not Mel Blanc, that one hears in the cartoons. (Not to take anything away from your Thanksgiving, scody, which is my own vision of heaven.)

Also, note that Julian was imitating a car horn, not saying words (either "beep" or "meep").
posted by sleevener at 8:50 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Scody, can I borrow your childhood for just a bit? I'll bring it back in good shape...
posted by Space Kitty at 8:57 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Until I read Scody's response, I was going to post what I thought was the definitive answer. Here goes anyway:

My high school's mascot was the Roadrunner, and in team huddles, we used the cheer "1-2-3, beep, beep!" to strike fear into the hearts of our opponents.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:22 AM on January 30, 2009


sleevener, next you'll tell me that it wasn't really Bugs who passed the sweet potatoes!
posted by scody at 11:37 AM on January 30, 2009


On a more on-topic topic: it seems like the commentary track for the cartoon "Fast and Furry-ous" features an archival recording of Mr. Julian saying the words in question, at his customary speed (they sped up the recording for the cartoons). That might be the best way to settle your argument. It's on Volume 1 disc 3 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection. I couldn't find a clip online, but I know Netflix has it.
posted by sleevener at 2:15 PM on January 30, 2009


I always heard it as "meep-meep". I read this whole thread, felt sad that there was all his logical evidence for "beep-beep" in print, watched this, and when I saw the damn captions, I expected to hear "beep-beep".

But I didn't. I played it over and over again, but kept hearing "meep-meep".

E pur si meep-meep!
posted by maudlin at 3:11 PM on January 30, 2009


It's on Volume 1 disc 3 of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection.

I have this! [rummages about]

Give me a bit...
posted by Aquaman at 3:24 PM on January 30, 2009


Meep, obviously.

Beepers, now you're going to tell me that Ralph actually becomes a Vivking in his sleep.
posted by mwhybark at 4:01 PM on January 30, 2009


argh, tvyping in gloves
posted by mwhybark at 4:02 PM on January 30, 2009


OK, here you go. I've got 3 clips from the DVD Golden Collection commentary. They're about a minute each (192kbps mp3). If you don't want to listen to them, here's the summary (names may be spelt wrong, sorry):

Clip 1 : Narrator (Michael Barrier, author of "Hollywood Cartoons: American Animation in its Golden Age) refers to a "meep meep" sound, then plays a clip from Michael Maltese (director). Maltese refers to the sound as "beep beep" when talking about Paul Julian (background artist), the guy who actually made the sound.

Clip 2 : Narrator mentions the title of the second cartoon being "Beep Beep", then plays a clip from Trig Brown (sound FX man) talking about recording the original sound made by Paul Julian.

Clip 3 : Paul Julian himself says "meep" clearly and often. But here's the clincher: the narrator then relates that Paul Julian was quite insistent that the spelling of the sound he was making was "HMEEP".

So nobody's right.
posted by Aquaman at 4:17 PM on January 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


Hmeep it is then.
posted by Megafly at 5:56 PM on January 30, 2009


scody, that's ten kinds of awesome.

For the record, I am, and always been, a meeper.
posted by rtha at 6:21 PM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


/have always....
posted by rtha at 6:22 PM on January 30, 2009


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