It’s International English Language Day.

If you want to improve your English vocabulary today, you could work your way through a dictionary or a thesaurus, or one of the many language guides the world has to offer.

Or you could take a really big linguistic detour and read perhaps the most unusual guide to the language ever published, the one called “English As She Is Spoke.”

This volume came out in 1883 ot 1884 thanks to one Pedro Carolino, of whom we can safely say he meant well.

He wanted to help students in Portugal learn a little English, so he put together a book of common English phrases.

The catch was that Carolino didn’t really speak English himself.

Nor did he have a Portuguese to English dictionary handy.

What he had was a Portuguese to French dictionary, and then a French to English dictionary.

You can try this exact same language relay using online language translators today.

And you’ll probably come up with the same kinds of phrases that are in this book.

Among the items in the “common phrases” section:

  1. “He has spit in my coat.”
  2. “Have you forgeted me?”
  3. “He was fighted in duel.”
  4. “Wax my shoes.”
  5. “I am catched cold in the brain.”

“English As She Is Spoke” did not become the go-to guide for aspiring English speakers in Portugal.

Instead, it became a hit with English speakers who found it so bad it was hilarious.

It was republished with the subtitle “A Jest In Sober Earnest,” and at least one edition had a foreword by Mark Twain.

He described it this way:

“Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.”

This weekend in Mount Olive, North Carolina, it’s the North Carolina Pickle Festival.

This event will feature the Cuke Patch 5K race, a pickle eating contest, a Pickle Princess Pageant, a Tour de Pickle, and a Pickleball tournament.

They’re staying on brand, aren’t they?

English As She Is Spoke (1884) (Public Domain Review)

North Carolina Pickle Festival

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