Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Merry Christmas, everybody...

Looking out of my window, the apt song for today would seem to be "I'm dreaming of a wet Christmas". It's mild but rainy.

The oddest Christmas I ever had was spent in shorts and T-shirt in sweltering tropical heat without the benefit of AC, frantically trying to copy-edit a book which claimed to be a dictionary of idiomatic English, but which had quite clearly been written by someone totally unfamiliar with the English language.

It contained examples of 'idiomatic English' such as:

"World War I broke down shortly afterwards"


"Excuse me, can you tell me where I can move the bowels?"

I should have just let it stand as an inadvertent comic masterpiece, I suppose.


No Good Boyo said...

Ho ho ho, Merry Gyppomas! I came across a Soviet Russian-English phrasebook published in 1962 which was clearly edited by an enthusiastic loon or a deeply pissed-off Brit. Every request ended with the phrase "for me, please!", eg "A haircut./ticket./steak and chips for me, please!". "Please wash my hair" came out as "please sprinkle my head". It included a visit to a British mine, where the Soviet guest was expected to ask "Have you heard tell of the latest Soviet bore-drilling devices?" Sounds like the start of a swinging evening. Never seen the book since. I ought to have stolen it from the child after all.

M C Ward said...

A student from Kazakhstan once showed a colleague of mine a Kazak-English phrasebook with the terms, "He's an overeater", "A large hooter she has", and the insurpassable, "This sucking weather kinks for a shuffling".

No Good Boyo said...

mc, I think you may have started a meme. "Kinks for a shuffling" will now be added to my vocabulary.

Gyppo Byard said...

Mind you, it cuts both ways. The only language study I had a chance to do before moving to Indonesia was a linguaphone course which taught up-to-the-minute idiomatic Bahasa Indonesia from about 1955. When I arrived and started using it, people helpfully fell about laughing and invited me to parties just so that their friends could hear me too. Imagine someone who had learnt all their English from George Formby films arriving in modern Britain and you get a rough idea.