Khaos

Archive for February 12th, 2003

Speaking English

Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to. It would be charitable to say that the results are sometimes mixed.

Consider this hearty announcement in a Yugoslavian hotel: “The flattening of underwear with pleasure is the job of the chambermaid. Turn to her straightaway.” Or this warning to motorists in Tokyo: “When a passenger of the foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet at him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage, then tootle him with vigour.” Or these instructions gracing a packet of fast food from Italy: “Besmear a backing pan, previously buttered with a good tomato sauce, and, after, dispose the cannelloni, lightly distanced between them in a only couch.”

– Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue