MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Greatest Language Book

I have just placed an order for a 19th century language book called "English as she is spoken". The said book is apparently the most hilarious dictionary ever produced. The background is simple. Two Portuguese gentlemen called Pedro Carolino and Jose Da Fonseca decided to write an English phrasebook. The major drawback to this is that they couldn't speak English, and even worse they didn't have an English dictionary. So, they used their French to English dictionary to write a Portuguese to English phrasebook. Crazy? Yes! But it resulted in perhaps the most hilarious example of lingusitics in history. According to Mark Twain:
Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can hope to produce it's fellow; it is perfect".
The most hilarious translations, first on hunting:
There is it some game in the wood?
Whilst on fishing:
That pond it seems to me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing.
Surely this can't get any worse? Yes it can.
In the land of blinds, the one-eyed man is kings.
There is simply nothing I can add to that!


At 10:55 am, Blogger Edwin Greenwood said...

I picked up a copy of a small (shirt pocket-sized) book which was a selection of the choicer howlers from Carolino's masterpiece in the 1970s on a remainders stall in Manchester.

I heartily recommended it, and if the book you link to is the full work, I might well indulge in a copy.

One word of warning. Do not read it in a public place. When you start laughing hysterically you may not be able to regain your composure quickly enough to prevent the men in white coats carrying you away.

At 7:37 pm, Blogger Michaelcd said...

That's good advice, as one I get a joke in my head I can't stop laughing.

Take this morning for example. I was going to work and I put the radio on. A story came on about the BBC, mistakenly putting an African taxi driver on air, instead of his passenger who was an IT expert. This had me in hysterics. The person in the car next to me looked across and they must have thought I was crazy!


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