In the 1800s a Portuguese man named Pedro Carolino gave a brave attempt to write a phrasebook for those learning the English language.
‘English as She Is Spoke’, or ‘O novo guia da conversação em portuguez e inglez’, was supposed to help those with Portuguese as a mother tongue to converse with English speakers. The only problem was that the writer spoke little English himself, and the end result of his clumsy translations was just a little strange…
(Image of original book cover from public domain)
It is assumed that the Pedro Carolino used two separate dictionaries to complete his book- first a Portuguese to French translator, then French to English. This would certainly explain why the language is a tad off-course. The translations were so poor and nonsensical that the book soon became famous, and instant cult classic, reaching as far as Mark Twain in the USA. Twain even wrote the introduction for the first English edition in 1883:
“Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.”
Below are a list of some of the ever-so-slightly-not-perfect phrases within the book… Can you spot where he went wrong?
I wonder whether this now-infamous book was the inspiration behind the classic Monty Python’s Flying Circus “Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook” sketch?
Take a look and see for yourself…
This is where a bit of colouring in can help, even if you just stab at the page with a red pencil while screaming obscenities. Regular colouring books are good, adult colouring books are great, but colouring books that swear along with you? They are THE BEST.
Just take a look…
Yo. il meet u 2moro n den we cn dcyd wats 2 b done 4 Claire’s bday. Pls ask Anne 2 join us 2. Oh n I saw d vid u sent. Lol. So kul! Anyway, cu 2moro. Lmk d tym. Gtg.
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