Excuse me?

You can’t believe everything you read when it comes to a translation guide.  The following was reported by Mark Herman in the Nov/Dec 2009  edition of the translation industry’s ATA Chronicle with contributions by Costa Kanellos and Joseph Ciparick.

A 1949 book called the  English-Turkish Conversation Book written by one M. Vasif Okcugíl attempted to provide English sentences for those Turks wanting to speak the English language.  Each entry in the book is a phrase that is first written in English, then transliterated into Turkish orthography and then finally into Turkish itself.  Unfortunately, anyone using this book would have been looked at by any English speaker with puzzlement and then probably with either amusement or pity.  Here are some examples of a few of the English results.  Some are discernible, and others are just plain unfathomable.  A piece of advice?  If you speak Turkish, don’t buy this book!

Put your napkin to your front.

This paper is blotting.

Pleat your thumb and the second finger.

You did not administrate the establishment.

He did not take care to my advices.

Did you divine the enigma?

If I am not get up when I awake, I am deadly sleeping again.

Is it killed anybody?

They did not agitate the question.

What o’clock is it?


Of course, the real kicker in English is our determined propensity to pronounce similar spellings in different ways.  No wonder English is so hard for non-native speakers to master!  Think about the following examples, which we native speakers just take for granted (and for those of us with children, we spend years correcting them on):

“ONE”:    One    Gone      Tone

“OU”:   Hour    Four    Tour   Should    Moustache

“ERE”:    Where    Here    Were

“OO”:    Food    Good    Door    Cooperate    Blood

“IM”:    Climb    Limb

“IMB”:  Climber     Limber

“UMB”:  Plumber     Lumber

“IPED”:  Piped    Biped  

“AUGH”:  Caught    Laugh

“INT”:   Pint    Tint

And then the “king” of the confusing diphthongs,

“OUGH”:  Though   Through    Thought    Tough   Trough   Thorough    Bough     Cough     Hiccough



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