English As She Is Spoke

English As She Is Spoke

Infobox Book
name = English as She Is Spoke
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translator =

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author = José da Fonseca
Pedro Carolino
illustrator =
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country = Portugal
language = Portuguese and English
series =
subject =
genre = phrase book
publisher =
pub_date = 19th century
english_pub_date =
media_type =
pages =
isbn =
oclc =
preceded_by =
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"English as She Is Spoke" is the common name of a 19th century book credited to José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino, which was intended as a Portuguese-English conversational guide or phrase book, but is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour.

The humour appears to be a result of dictionary-aided literal translation, which causes many idiomatic expressions to be translated wildly inappropriately. For example, the Portuguese phrase "chover a cântaros" is translated as "raining in jars", whereas an idiomatic English translation would be "raining buckets".

Mark Twain said of "English as She Is Spoke" that "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect." [Mark Twain, "English as she is taught: Being genuine answers to examination questions in our public schools", 1887]


It is widely believed that neither of the authors credited with the work could speak English, and that they used a French-English dictionary to translate an earlier Portuguese-French phrase book "O Novo guia da conversação em francês e português", which had been written by José da Fonseca alone. The Portuguese-French phrase book is apparently a competent work, without the defects that characterise "English as She Is Spoke".

More recently, Alexander MacBride of the UCLA Department of Linguistics has suggested that it is more likely that the Portuguese-English book was an unauthorised translation by Pedro Carolino without the involvement of José da Fonseca.

Stephen Pile mentions this work in "The Book of Heroic Failures", and comments: "Is there anything in conventional English which could equal the vividness of "'To craunch a marmoset'"?"

Phrase examples

Publication history

* 1853 - In Paris, "J.-P. Aillaud, Monlon e Ca" published a Portuguese-French phrase book entitled "O Novo guia da conversação em francês e português" by José da Fonseca. The Portuguese Biblioteca Nacional has a copy of this book with catalogue number L.686P. Another copy of this book is in the Bibliothèque nationale de France under the catalogue number FRBNF30446608.
* 1855 - In "Paris", "J.-P. Aillaud, Monlon e Ca" published a Portuguese-English phrase book entitled "O Novo Guia da Conversação, em Português e Inglês, em Duas Partes" (literally, "The new guide to conversation, in Portuguese and English, in two parts"), with authorship attributed to José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino. A copy of this book is in the "Bibliothèque nationale de France" under the catalogue number FRBNF30446609. Another copy is in the Bodleian Library, Oxford.
* 1883 - The book was published in London as "English as She is Spoke". The first American edition, published in Boston also came out this year, with an introduction by Samuel Clemens.
* 1969 - The book was re-published in New York by Dover Publications, under the title "English as she is spoke; the new guide of the conversation in Portuguese and English" (ISBN 0-486-22329-9).
* 2002 - A new edition edited by Paul Collins was published under the Collins Library imprint of McSweeney's (ISBN 0-9719047-4-X).
* 2002 - Brazilian edition of the copies of the 1855 edition held in the "Bibliothèque nationale de France" and the Bodleian Library, published by Casa da Palavra, Rio de Janeiro (ISBN 85-87220-56-X).
* 2004 - A revised paperback version of the above Collins Library edition was published (ISBN 1-932416-11-0).

Related titles

The phrase inspired some other publications, notably:

* "English as she is wrote" (1883)
* "Britain as she is visit", a spoof tourist guide in similar style to the original book. By Paul Jennings, British Life (M Joseph, 1976)


ee also

* "Striking and Picturesque Delineations of the Grand, Beautiful, Wonderful, and Interesting Scenery Around Loch-Earn"
* Engrish

External links

* [http://www.zompist.com/spoke.html English as she is spoke vs. Babelfish]
* [http://www.archimedes-lab.org/carolino.html English as she is spoke: Idiotisms and Proverbs]

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