Language humor


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Language humor

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Modifié : Août 15, 2006, 10:58pm

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Modifié : Août 15, 2006, 11:01pm

Let's try that again...

I started a similar thread in the linguistics-related group I Survived the Great Vowel Shift, but I thought I'd start one here for amusing sites on the web that don't deal specifically with linguistics so much, but amusing use of language. Here's the initiatory post:

The Eggcorn Database

Now others come and share the wealth! We want links, links I say!

Sep 5, 2006, 5:55pm

The lover's dictionary : how to chat up a bird in five languages.

Very funny, as the English phonetics are added to the translations. Make sure to get the original edition, as a later print unfortunately has some unnecessary illustrations added and some of the phrases left out.


'Please take advantage of the chamber maid!' (will post a link if I find one). English signs in non-english speaking countries. Stupidly gave my copy away and now it's out of print. Some similar signs can be found online, but I never saw any I liked as much as those in the book.

Sep 5, 2006, 10:46pm

The chambermaid signs are in Anguished English, as well as all over the net without any attribution, but that isn't out of print.

Sep 6, 2006, 2:33am

Thank you, MMcM :-) is the rest of the book good, too?

Sep 6, 2006, 7:45am

oh yes! both Anguished English and More Anguished English are excellent!

Sep 6, 2006, 2:05pm

I second that, Anguished English is great.

Although I find it a tad annoying that it perpetuates several linguistic urban legends, such as that "Ich bin ein Berliner" would've made people think of jelly donuts, or any number of the botched advertising slogan translations.

Just because somebody printed it somewhere doesn't make it true..

Sep 6, 2006, 4:13pm

Have I got a link for you... One of the funniest language-related sites I've found is The Zompist Phrasebook. Read it and weep with laughter.

Sep 23, 2006, 3:21pm

For the bilingual in you, there is Sky My Wife! Ciel, ma femme! in which Jean-Loup Chiflet translates literally all sorts of expressions. You don't actually have to speak French to laugh your head off.

Oct 29, 2006, 6:35am

Ruin sorbees

(Se non e vero, e ben trovato..)

Oct 30, 2006, 9:23am

>9 Cecilturtle:

Apart from i.a. Sky my wife indeed, there is a whole series of these books, dealing with different languages. I 've got several copies from that series, i.a. "Een konijn plaatsen / Poser un lapin", "Envoyer son chat / Zijn kat sturen", etc., and some "Guide of running English /Guide de l'anglais courant", too.

Modifié : Mar 30, 2007, 6:50am

the book Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss is pretty funny book about grammar.

14Daffobint Premier message
Mai 30, 2007, 11:41am

"Komma rätt, komma fel, och komma till punkt" by Eva Halldinger and based on Lynne Truss' book is the Swedish version and is also very funny! I have to admit I'm quite the grammar-fetishist!

Juin 6, 2007, 4:03am

Mark Twain's The Awful German Language is one of the funniest books I have ever read. Although you have to know (at least a little bit) German to enjoy it.

Juin 23, 2007, 11:10pm

This thread reminds of a training session I had on "how to work with translators". We were instructed to be careful with puns and some other jokes. By way of example: What do you call a fish with no eyes? PHSSSSSHHHHHH.

It is a great example of what doesn't translate, I also find it hilarious!!

Sep 16, 2007, 3:54pm

There are thousands of photos of "interesting" English on

Sep 25, 2007, 4:01am

They are very interesting...

Modifié : Oct 30, 2007, 11:36pm

Let's see, the liners to a luxurious three volume set of C&W music (Mercury Country) published in Japan included:

"Jesus brought me a blue owl in my caboose"

Listening to the record, I could make out the words:

"Jesus brought me through all my troubles"

I guess this could be labeled a surreal mistranscription. I am ripping off my own book Robin D Gill: Orientalism & Occidentalism: Is the Mistranslation of Culture Inevitable? (which Touchstones had trouble with until i bracketed my name instead) with the example. Now, I think i will start a forum for funniest translations unless it has already been done, as that humor is a bit different from this (Add. I started a Forum called "Odd (Mis)Translations" in the Group Translators Read Too.)

Nov 2, 2007, 8:08pm

I once heard a karaoke machine version of the 70s Gilbert O'Sullivan hit that had the lyric "just like a cat on a hot tin roof" rendered as "just like a cat in a haunted room." I suppose the cat would be a bit nervous in either case.

Déc 18, 2007, 9:43am

To go with the Lederer Anguisd English series try 'Fish Go About the Sea in Shawls.' I forget the author.
'Word Myths' (authorial mea culpa) dispels the ich bin ein berliner story along with others.
The website has photos of signs, t-shirts, logos, etc. mainly from Japan