Issue 123, page 4
From Greg Umberson:
Thanks guys for continuing to create such an informative, and at the same
time entertaining, site.
I am always interested in the humorous (ab)uses of English words in other
countries and wanted to share one with you. I have a friend from work who recently lost his passport in Beijing. Of course he had to fill out a report
with the authorities, but they were thoughtful enough to provide a form in
English for people who have lost their passports. He was asked to sign the
report and next to the signature was written Loser's Signature ! He immediately broke out laughing at being such a
loser. As happens with many
of these translations, they make perfect sense if you think about them. It
also makes you realize how idiomatic most English is (or most languages for
It's only Thursday and I'm already thinking about next week's edition (do
web-sites have "editions"?).
We do indeed but
here at TOWFI Towers we refer to them as "issues".
Thanks for the
From David Greenstein:
Steve Parkes's memories of Caesar adsum jam forte reminded me of a couple of similar constructions dating back (at least) to my own school days in
the 1950s. The "French" line went pas de leur Rhône que nous (= paddle your own
canoe). The Latin version I recall was:
O cibile dere dego
O nobile deis trux.
Deis fulla causan dux.
Oh see, Billy, there they go
Forty busses in a row.
Oh no, Billy, they is trucks.
They is full of cows and ducks.
By the way, what would you call these bilingual plays on words?
Search us, bwana.
Readers... any ideas?
From Dick Timberlake:
"Caesar, I am here then(?) strongly..."
- so went my attempt to translate
(without benefit of dictionary) the alleged Latin poem. Once I stopped trying to translate it, I got it! Yuk, yuk! Of course, tea is not an
American meal, and "jam forte" puzzled me for a bit, until I remembered the
British provenance of the rhyme.
This poem is kind of like Semper ubi, sub
ubi (the motto of another word
site) or Forte dux in aro. You either don't translate these at all, or
there's something funny about the translation.
Keep those words coming!
Many Americans probably had the same
reaction, Dick. However, it makes getting the "joke" even
better, doesn't it?
From Steve Parkes:
Actually, the one I had in mind was
Caesar adsum jam forte, Pompey
aderat, which has the distinction of being real Latin. (But don't ask me what it
means!) I'm sure you know this one too:
Civile si ergo
Fortibus is in ero.
Gnoses mare, thebe trux.
Vatisinem? Causan dux!
There seem to be almost innumerable
variations of these amusing little poems!
From Ignatius Lam:
I have been downloading your sites to files, and read it during my
business trip, as I don't have sufficient time to stay online to read online. However, recently you have changed your format into one which
is splintered into many smaller fragments of files. It creates a lot of
problem for me to download. If you think this is a better way to organize the materials, I would suggest you adding a full
magazine download as before 109 issues, then you have two options to your
customer. For me, I would prefer to download the whole magazine and read it during my travel, for others, he may like to download those he
Please note that
there are now five files instead of one for each back issue. Page 2
is one page, even though we have individual links to each of the five
words discussed there each week.
It became too
time-consuming for us to copy each week's full issue into one page.
We are working on automating that task which will allow us to be more
From Sue Duffy:
Interestingly, in modern India, a
kurta is a long shirt. I'd never before realized it's connection to
It is amazing how many Hindi words are
recognizable to speakers of English if you hold them up to the light and
squint a bit. (Er... the words, that is, not the speakers.)
Comments, additions? Send to
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DO NOT SEND QUERIES TO THAT ADDRESS.
Instead, ASK US.
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Last Updated 05/28/01 09:41 PM