Sunday, July 17, 2011

The walls have hearsay


When English as She Is Spoke was published in 1883 it raised controversy, but it was due to the funny content and didn’t involve serious issues. In the middle of the 19thcentury, a Portuguese author named Jose da Fonseca became notable for writing phrase books that were used to help travelers and people interesting in learning multiple languages. His most famous publication was a successful Portuguese-French phrase book, which was adapted by a man named Pedro Carolino. After the popularity of the initial book, Carolino decided to write his own Portuguese to English conversational guide. However, he placed the more popular Jose da Fonseca’s name as the author without his knowledge. Problems began to arise when it was realized that Pedro Carolino didn’t speak English.
The Controversy
English as She Is Spoke is regarded as one of the funniest books written in the 19th century and a classic source of unintentional humor, due to the fact that the given English translations in the book are generally completely incoherent and wrong. It is widely believed that Pedro Carolino used a French-English dictionary to translate the earlier Portuguese-French phrase book that was written by José da Fonseca. The attempt failed to produce coherent English speech. It seems that the dictionary-aided literal use of the words caused many expressions to be translated wildly inappropriately. For example, the Portuguese phrase chover a cântaros is translated as raining in jars, when the English translation should be “raining buckets.”
Here are some more notable examples of phrases used in the book. The walls have hearsay, should be “the walls have ears.” He go to four feet, should be “he is crawling.” Is sure the road, should be “is the road safe.” That pond it seems me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing. The English translation should have been, “This pond seems like it’s full of fish. Let’s have some fun fishing.” Mark Twain said of English as She Is Spoke, “Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, and nobody can hope to produce its fellow. It is perfect.”

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1 comment:

Shell said...

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