English as She Is Spoke

In Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue John McWhorter mentioned his predilection for English as She Is Spoke, a book written by Pedro Carolino in the 19th century. It is often falsely credited to José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino. Carolino added Fonseca’s name to the book without the latter knowing about it. Fonseca had written a successful Portuguese-French phrase book, which Carolino adapted. The book was originally known as The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English, and the fact that he could not speak English was no deterrent to this hardy soul. With just a Portuguese-French phrase-book and a French-English dictionary Carolino set about initiating Portuguese students in the mysteries of the English language. Monty Python had their Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook sketch. Then there was that politically incorrect series, Mind Your Language. It is set in a school for adult students in London, focusing on the English as a Foreign Language. The “humour” of the show comes from the students misunderstanding English words with a bit of cultural stereotyping thrown in the mix. What makes English as She Is Spoke funny is that the laughs are unintentional. It has become a classic: Mark Twain was an early devotee:

Whatsoever is perfect in its kind, in literature, is imperishable: nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect, it must and will stand alone: its immortality is secure. … One cannot open this book anywhere and not find richness.”

The first part consists of lists of words and phrases in Portuguese and English accompanied by their English pronunciations.

Apply you at the study during that you are young.

These apricots and these peaches make me and to come water in mouth.

This room is filled of bugs.

I am confused all yours civilities.

You mistake you self heavily.

He is valuable his weight’s gold.

It must never to laugh of the unhappies.

The hands itch at him.

Do not might one’s understand to speak.

You mistake you self heavily.


The second part is dedicated to “Familiar dialogues” in English and Portuguese with their corresponding titles:

 For to travel

–          Where you go so?

–          I am going to Cadiz.

–          Have you already arrested a coach?

–          Yes, sir, and very cheap.

–          There is it some danger on the highway?

–          It is not spoken that.

–          They speak not that may have some robbers on the woods?

–          It have nothing to fear, or in day neither the night.

–          Don’t we does pass for a***?

–          No, sir, they leave it to left.

–          Let us take patience, still some o’clock, and we shall be in the  end of our voyage.


The fishing

–          That pond it seems me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing.

–          Here, there is a wand and some hooks.

–          Silence! there is a superb perch! Give me quick the rod. Ah! There is, it is a lamprey. You mistake you,   it is a frog! dip again it in the water.


The walk

–          Will you and take a walk with me?

–          Wait for that the warm be out.

–          Go through that meadow.

–          Who the country is beautiful! who the trees are thick!

–          Take the bloom’s perfume.

–          It seems me that the corn does push alredy.

–          You hear the bird’s gurgling?

–          Which pleasure! which charm!

–          The field has by me a thousand charms.

–          Are you hunter? will you go to the hunting in one day this week?

–          Willingly; I have not a most pleasure in the world. There is some game on they cantons?

–          We have done a great walk.


The book ends with various small appendices including anecdotes, idiotisms and proverbs:

In the country of blinds, the one eyed men are kings.

It is better be single as a bad company.

He sin in trouble water.

To craunch the marmoset.

Guttler, a very rich man too many avaricious, commonly he was travel at a horse, and single for to avoid all expenses. In the evening at to arrive at the inn did feign to be indispose, to the end that one bring him the supper. He did ordered to the stable knave to bring in their room some straw, for to put in their boots he made to warm her bed and was go lo sleep. When the servant was draw again, he come up again, and with the straw of their boots, and the candle Avhat was leave him he made a small fire where he was roast a herring what he did keep of her pocket. He was always the precaution one to provide him self of a small of bread and one bring up a water bottle, and thus with a little money.





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