Four Signs and Seven Years Ago

Quelquefois, il neige dans la sale de bain.

That’s one of the few phrases I remember from my high school French class. It means “Sometimes, it snows in the bathroom.” I’ve never had occasion to use the phrase in an actual conversation, but it’s nice to have it in the arsenal in case I ever need it. I’ve also got “Je voudrais batissent un grenouille rouge,” which translates as “I’d like to build a red frog,” and “je mange beacoup d’oeuf,” or, in other words, “I eat a lot of eggs.” I don’t really eat a lot of eggs, but if I did, I could tell a Frenchman without any assistance.

Another French phrase my cousin taught me is “Puis-je cracher dans ton visage?” That translates into English as “May I spit in your face?” Apparently, it’s a very, very polite way of asking the question. That may soften the blow when you get to the heart of the matter.

I know several very useful Spanish phrases as well. “La vaca da leche.” The cow gives milk. “El trein esta en la iglesia.” The train is in the church. “Es ese tu pulpo?” Is this your octopus?

And then there’s my favorite: “Soy el hombre mas gordo del mundo.” I am the fattest man in the world.

I learned how to say this phrase in several different languages. Ami prethibir sobchey mota loc. That’s the fattest man in the world in Hindi. Na neun se sangh e suh kajhang tung tung han salaam imnida. That’s the Korean fat guy. I’m sure my spelling is atrocious, as I can just barely spell in English. Give me break. I am the fattest man in the world, after all.

Fortunately, the Internet has made all of my translation skills obsolete. AltaVista’s Babel Fish provides instant conversion from English to any number of languages. I do question just how accurate the translation is. Witness the following paragraph, which is Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address translated into Italian and then re-translated back into English. I haven’t altered a word.

Four signs and seven years ago our fathers caused on this continent, one new nation, conceived in the freedom and dedicate you to the proposal that all the men equal are generated. Hour we are couples to you in great a civil war, difficult if that nation, or any nation so as to conceived and therefore dedicated, he can long resist to we have come to contact of on a great battlefield of that war.

We have come to dedicate a part of that field, like space of final pause for those who has given their screw here that that nation could living. Altogether he is adapted and adapted that we would have to make this. But, in a greater sense, we cannot dedicate them — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this earth. The men, the good life and breakdowns, that they have fought here, consecrated it, far away over our poor feeding to add or detrarre give.

The will of the world little famous one, neither long is remembered of that what we say here, but can not be forgotten never that what Is for we the life here, rather, to be dedicated here to the job not ended that that they have fought here up to now they have advanced therefore noble. It is more rather affinchè we is dedicated to the great operation remaining before we — than from these dead men honored we take to increased devozione to that cause for which they have given the last complete measure of devozione — that one here highly we resolve here that these dead men will not be died in useless — that this nation, under the God, will have one new birth of the freedom — and that the government of people, from people, for people, will not perish from the earth.

It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it? Still, it’s a fun exercise. And when you do this with anything Languatron writes, it actually makes more sense than the original.

The Order of the Arrow
Preserving a Teacher's Right to Suck

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