English as She Is Spoke

Having learned that The Manolo’s unique patois may have been ripped off by the folks at Neiman Marcus, Izzy wishes to inform fans of his master’s voice of a book they will definitely enjoy: the unintentionally hilarious nineteenth-century classic English as She Is Spoke. Intended as a Portuguese-English phrasebook, its Portuguese authors suffered from just one minor problem: they knew no actual English. Instead, they relied on literal dictionary definitions when translating, which caused them to pen some of the funniest English of all time.

Here are some sample phrases from the book, which are followed by the correct English:

Sentence in Portuguese Given translation Idiomatic translation
As paredes têm ouvidos. The walls have hearsay. The walls have ears.
Anda de gatinhas. He go to four feet. He crawls. / Crawl. (imperative)
A estrada é segura? Is sure the road? Is the road safe?
Sabe montar a cavalo. He know ride horse. He knows how to ride a horse.
Que horas são? What o’clock is it? What time is it?
Quem cala consente. That not says a word, consent. He who doesn’t object, consents.
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 like vomiting.
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 seems like it’s full of fish. Let’s have some fun fishing.
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.

2 Responses to “English as She Is Spoke”

  1. Amy July 19, 2006 at 10:11 am #

    Great stuff. One of my favorite sites for translation disasters is http://www.engrish.com

    Amy

  2. Cacciagudia July 24, 2006 at 8:30 pm #

    I read that “Baube” thing; I don’t think it sounds like the Manolo at all.

    Cacciaguida say, the Cacciaguida he write the imitation of the flattery when he alludes to the opinions of the Manolo! And in so alluding he is always showing the respect!