English As She Is Spoke is a masterpiece first published in 1884. It was written by the Pedro Carolino, who added the name of successful Portuguese-French phrasebook author, José da Fonseca, to the publication (it seems without da Fonseca’s knowledge). It seems that Senhor Carolino did not know English; it is believed that Carolino used da Fonseca’s Portuguese-French phrasebook and a French-English dictionary to produce his masterpiece in unintentional humour. Though Senhor Carolino was sincerely well-intentioned he produced English translations that range from downright bizarre to just plain incoherent. We can all learn a lesson from Senhor Carolino: never write a book teaching a language that you don’t know, especially if you’re just going to use literal translations. These issue not withstanding, or more likely because of these issues, English as She is Spoke is absurdly funny. Here is a selection of some of my favorite lines:
“Apply you at the study during that you are young.”
“Dress my horse.”
“Your razors, are them well?
Comb-me quickly; don’t put me so much pomatum. What news tell me? all hairs
dresser are newsmonger.
Sir, I have no heared any thing.”
“Tongh he is German, he speak so much well italyan, french, spanish, and english, that
among the Italyans, they believe him Italyan, he speak the frenche as the Frenches
himselves. The Spanishesmen belie ve him Spanishing, and the Englishes, Englisman.
It is difficult to enjoy well so much several languages.”
“Take out the live coals with the hand of the cat.”
“Burn the politeness.”