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…
Words can be a wonder.
Sometimes, however, our words can make ridiculous jokes, we can interpret things the wrong way, and laugh at images conjured where they were not intended.
This is one of those times. Welcome to the world of unintentional innuendo…
She recently caught our attention on BBC Radio 4’s Word of Mouth with Michael Rosen with their discussion on how US and UK words are being shared, loved, and hated on either side of the pond.
Many people in the UK use the word ‘awesome’, for example, and possibly the same amount cannot stand the hyperbolic use of the word. In the USA the phrase ‘baby bump’ is causing many grimaces as well as many giggles, while UK swear/curse words such as ‘wanker’ are breaking through thanks to social media, film and television.
‘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… Read More
We hope to make you giggle, groan, and guffaw!
It has been since noted that the first documented sighting of the Smiley and Frowny emoticons that we know and love (?) today was in 1982.