The Light Side of Language
The Swiss Guy
A Swiss guy visited Sydney, Australia, and pulled up at a bus stop where two
locals were waiting.
"Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?" he
asked. The two Aussies just stared at him.
"Excusez-moi, parlez vous Francais?" he tried. The two continued to stare.
Other than a glance at each other, there was still no response.
"Hablan ustedes Espanol?" Still nothing.
The Swiss guy gave up and drove off, extremely disgusted.
When he was gone, the first Aussie turned to the second and said,
"Y'know, maybe we should learn a foreign language."
"Why?" the other replied. "That guy knew four languages, and it didn't do
him any good."
(A) The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(B) On the other hand, the French eat a lot of fat and also suffer fewer
heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(C) The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than the British or Americans.
(D) The Italians drink excessive amounts of red wine and also suffer fewer
heart attacks than the Americans.
(E) Conclusion: Eat & drink what you like. It's speaking English
that kills you.
"Where is the proprietor, my good man?, asks the aristocrat.
"I don't know , but why don't you ask the
owner behind the bar. He might know",
answers Hagar the Horrible.
© King Features
World Wide Language
English Is A Crazy Language
Reasons Why the English Language is Hard to Learn
Supplement for Basic English Dictionary : Woman's Dictionary
Yes = No
No = Yes
Maybe = No
I'm sorry = You'll be sorry
We need = I want
It's your decision = My correct decision should be obvious by now
Do what you want = You'll pay for this later
We need to talk = I need to complain
Sure go ahead = I don't want you to
I'm not upset = Of course I'm upset, you moron
This kitchen is so inconvenient = I want a new house
I want new curtains = carpeting, furniture, and wallpaper
I heard a noise = I noticed you were almost asleep
Do you love me? = I'm going to ask for something expensive
How much do you love me? = I did something today you're going to hate
I'll be ready in a minute = Kick off your shoes and find a good game on TV
You have to learn to communicate = Just agree with me
The English Mother Tongue
From First Cambridge Certificate, Robert Warnke, June 29, 2004
When the English tongue we speak
Why is "break" not rhymed with "weak"?
Won't you tell me why it's true
We say "sew", but also "few"?
And the maker of a verse
Cannot rhyme his "horse" with "worse"?
"Beard" is not the same as "heard".
"Cord" is different from "word".
"Cow" is cow, but "low" is low,
"Shoe" is never rhymed with "foe".
Think of "hose" and "dose" and "lose",
And think of "goose" and yet of "choose",
Think of "comb" and "tomb" and "bomb",
"Doll" and "roll" and "home" and "some".
And since "pay" is rhymed with "say",
Why not "paid" with "said" I pray?
Think of "blood" and "food" and "good";
"Mould" is not pronounced like "could".
Why is it "done", but "gone" and "lone" --
Is there any reason known?
To sum it up, it seems to me
That sound and letters don't agree.
Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?
This is required reading for those working on translation wordlists and software.
It will help keep their work in perspective.
Here are some famous translations and some that might become so.
These two are over 40 years old, from the 1st chapter of a book about computers originally published in 1959.
"Out of sight, out of mind" into Russian and then that back to English
turned into 'Invisible, Insane'".
Also, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" translated
as : 'The Vodka is good but the meat is rotten'.
Technology does not appear to have moved much in 40 years in this field.
A friend ran "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak"
through the Alta Vista translator to Spanish, and then back to English and got:
'The alcohol is arranged but the meat is weak.'
"She sells sea shells on the sea shore" :
'it sells rinds of the sea in the border of the sea' (English/Spanish/English)
"It is no use crying over spilt milk" :
'By the use fortune normality the milk which flows out' (English/Korean/English)
"Feeling lonely? Pick up the phone and call someone for a friendly chat" :
'To smell solitairement? Draw aside the telephone and the call somebody for friendly Schwaetzchen'
"Is the glass half full or half empty?" :
'Glass half perfection is half the sky?' (English -> Japanese -> English)
"I'm a big fan of the AltaVista translator" to :
'I am a great ventilator of the translator of AltaVista.'
Yet, the software of the PCs of today will be far better than "mainframes" of '50s -- isn't it so ?
Job-hunting? Watch your spell-checker <g>
"Singing bonus expected."
Do you have a song preference?
"I look forward to meeting you in the feature."
Maybe we can conduct the interview during intermission.
"REASON FOR LEAVING: I felt my company was charging its
customers absorbent rates, so I left."
Sounds like the customers were getting soaked.
"EXPERIENCE: Worked party-time as an office assistant."
"DUTIES: Perfumed a variety of tasks."
Gives new meaning to the sweet smell of success.
"DUTIES: I verified telephone bills, including long distant ones."
How far away were they?
"EDUCATION: Suspected to graduate early next year."
Please let us know when it's definite.
"SKILLS SUMMARY: I constantly strive to learn knew things."
We "new" you could do it.
"MATERIAL STATUS: Single."
So you travel light?
"EXPERIENCE: ABC Tire Company, 1894-2001."
Now that's loyalty.
Regulations printed on a passenger ticket for Bodrum Airlines in Turkey; this is from a New Yorker end-column piece in the 1980s :
These make me almost afraid to continue with the Basic English translation project.
- - - - -
1. You do not get rezarvation with Bodrum Airlines.
2. You can not give back your ticket, but, if you annonce us before 24 hours your depart that you cannot fly you can use your ticket with in one year. After passing one year, you can not fly with your ticket.
3. You have to pay extra price if your baggece more than 10 kg. if aircraft baggece cappacity is avalleble.
4. Lost baggece insurance is 20.000 - TL (Twenty Thawzent)
5. Ticket price for 0-2 year ache babys are 10% of normal price.
6. You have to get in touch with contuar befe 30 mitutes of the departure, atherwine you don't get on the board and you don't have any rights for justice.
7. Your ticket cann't bu used if you be late or you miss departure time.
8. If someone gets ticket by doing tricky, Bodrum Airlines has rezerved the rights that there is no must to give a permation that passenger gets on the board.
9. Bodrum Airlines is able to cary all passengers and baggeces but if any unusual things happen the can pany can change schadule or find another aircraft or company.
10. Bodrum Airlines is not able to cary out flight schadule if an unusual thinks take place like bed weather, NOTAM, float, fire, eath queke, war, gone of elefricity, natural disaster, etc.
11. Each passangere has ensurance 25.000.000 - TL (Twenty five milyon TL)
12. Pragnent and sick people have to have doctor's permetion that they can get on the board.
13. Do not allawe to drink alcaol and smoke cigarets on board.
- - - - -
Bruce and his wife took the kids down to Florida for vacation.
Each morning they would have breakfast out on the deck and every
bird within a five mile radius would join them. Of particular
interest to their three year old son was a White Ibis.
His son referred to it as the big-nose-bird. Bruce explained
to him that it was in fact an Ibis, but he insisted that it was
the big-nose-bird. This reinforced for Bruce, two important points:
• A few common words can convey more meaning than one
technically correct word.
• You can't win an argument with a three year old. ;-)
- - - - - explaining the name of the bignosebird website.
There was a little mouse in his hole in the wall. One day the
mouse desired to take a walk, but a great cat was right at his door. The
little mouse was troubled that he was not able to go out.
While he was taking thought of an answer, the mouse heard a dog barking.
That's when he had a great thought. He said to himself, "Where there is a
dog there is no cat and where there's no cat I free to go for my walk."
So he happily walked out of his hole. All of a sudden the cat took the
mouse and ate him. Then the cat said, "Wow, it's great to have a second language!"
The difference between a dialect and a language ?
A language is a dialect with an army.
English is Tough by Rick Deines, T-R staff writer
Have a hard time learning English? Here are 21 reasons why it's so tough.
Its a wonder any of us know the language.
- The bandage was wound round the wound.
- The farm was used to produce produce.
- The dump was so full that it had to refuse refuse.
- We must polish the Polish furniture.
- He could lead if he could get the lead out.
- The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
- Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
- A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
- When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
- I did not object to the object.
- The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
- There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
- They were too close to the two doors to close them.
- The buck does funny things when the does are present.
- A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
- To help with the planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow. (Now, if he could teach his
sow to sew, that would really be something.)
- The wind was too strong to wind down the sail. (If that sail is ruined, the sailor will have o look for a sail sale.)
- Upon seeing the tear in the painting I had a tear.
- I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
- How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend.
And one more.
- Two horns are too many to a unicorn.
A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he
said, "a double negative forms a positive.
In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a
"However," he pointed out, "there is no language wherein a double positive can
form a negative." -- A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, Right."
The Basic Word, "up".
There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other
two-letter word, and that is "UP."
It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list,
but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a
topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and
why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP ! our friends.
And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP! the silver, we warm UP the
leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP
the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People
stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP
excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We
open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.
We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper
uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it
takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.
If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is
used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may
wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is
clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.
When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.
One could go on and on, but I'll! wrap it UP, for now my time is UP,
so..........Time to shut UP!
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine was attending a conference that included admirals in both the US and the French navies. At a cocktail reception, my friend found himself in a small group that included an admiral from each of the two navies.
The French admiral started complaining that whereas Europeans learned many
languages, Americans only learned English. He then asked. "Why is it that we have
to speak English in these conferences rather than you having to speak French?"
Without even hesitating, the American admiral replied, "Maybe it's because we
arranged it so that you didn't have to learn to speak German."
Here is a reason not to want to learn German, given by Hartmut to MWorldEnglish.
These words are nothing compared with the ones we have in Germany.
Mark Twain called some of them "alphabetical processions" in his remarkable essay "The Awful German Language".
All of these words are used frequently like "Mindesthaltbarkeitsdatum";
they are a torture to foreigners, who want to learn German:
measure of full growth
money for addition to normal study
table of social insurance given
trouble making agreement on date
box for giving clothing
trouble to change
money kept back
go forward with economic design
new structuring programs
controls of trade
statement of self direction
change in ideas
|Green is Basic English translation of Google translation|
Back to: Ogden's Basic English Homepage
About this Page: humor.html
Last updated : January 15, 2007
Contact us by