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My hovercraft is full of eels: English as she is spoke

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Screen Shot 2016-02-20 at 19.08.44Pedro Carolino of Portugal holds the record for unintentional humour: in 1883 he wrote and English-Portugese phrasebook, The new guide of the conversation in Portuguese and English. It is widely held that Pedro spoke no english and the book is a feast of hilarity with incomprehensible sentences such as:

  • He has toast his all good
  • Exculpate me by your brother’s
  • One eyed was laid against a man which had good eyes that he saw better than him. The party was accepted. I had gain, over said the one eyed; why I see you two eyes and you not look me who one
  • Nothing some money, nothing swiss
  • The stone as roll not heap up not foam
  • To craunch a marmoset

The theory is that he spoke no english, and translated with a french-english dictionary. The book is published under the name English as she is spoke, and Wikipedia gives this explanatory list of some phrases, the translations and the actual intended meaning:

Sentence in Portuguese Given translation Idiomatic translation
As paredes têm ouvidos. The walls have hearsay. Walls have ears.
Anda de gatinhas. He go to four feet. He’s crawling.
A estrada é segura? Is sure the road? Is the road safe?
Sabe montar a cavalo. He know ride horse. He can ride a horse.
Quem cala consente. That not says a word, consent. Silence is consent.
Que faz ele? What do him? What does he do? / What is he doing?
Tenho vontade de vomitar. I have mind to vomit. I feel sick.
Este lago parece-me bem piscoso. Vamos pescar para nos divertirmos. That pond it seems me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing. This lake looks full of fish. Let’s have some fun fishing.
O criado arou a terra real. The created plough the land real. The servant ploughed the royal land.
Bem sei o que devo fazer ou me compete. I know well who I have to make. I know very well what I have to do and what my responsibilities are.

Mark Twain said of the book:

Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.

And now over to the hovercraft crawling with eels: Monty Python and the Dirty Hungarian phrasebook sketch is pretty close:

Related hilarity:

benteh

“Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is”. All-round nerd with a tendency to poke things with a stick to see what happens. Doodler, artist, bookbinder, photographer, illustrator, graphic designer, web developer.

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