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…
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.
If you were able to read and understand that entire message perfectly, you officially speak texting lingo.
Standard SMS messages originally had a limit of 160 characters and, indeed, many still do. Read More
Sign language is a visual means of communication that uses hand gestures and facial expressions. It is mainly used by people who have hearing or speech impairments. Read More
Examples of this literary technique include puns, double entendres, tongue twisters, etc. We often engage in wordplay such as jokes and witty remarks during casual conversations among friends and colleagues. Read More
For many human beings words form part of our communication, and without them many of us would be lost. Language fascinates, frustrates, and entices us. As Reading Addicts it is part of our daily ritual to fall head first into pages upon pages of the written word and get lost in there for hours.
We often find ourselves re-reading an elegantly constructed sentence just to feel it trip through the mind a few more times. Other times our knowledge fails us and we reach for a dictionary, feeling that small thrill of learning a new piece of lexiconic excellence.
Your fellow language lovers at For Reading Addicts have collated a list of language-orientated books we think you may find useful or enjoyable as you continue your quest of expanding your mind through literature.
Please peruse and enjoy!
A Spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words, usually with a varying degree of difficulty. The concept is thought to have originated in the United States and spelling bee events are now held in many other countries around the world. Read More
Take a look at our slideshow of some bookish words to tickle your fancy…
The mission to correct the city’s grammar is one he takes very seriously, taking his home made ‘apostrophiser’ around the city to correct signs. He works hard not to be a vandal, repairing each sign perfectly, matching up colours and using sticky apostrophes rather than permanently defacing signs. Read More