It’s English, But Not As We Know It.

14 May 2007

I love the English language, particularly the way that it has such nuances that a non-English speaker with a very good command of our language can sometimes get it terribly wrong.  With very funny consequences.

We have all come across those signs that often appear in hotels, where every word is correct English but the meaning gets lost somewhere.  My favourite is “The water in this establishment has been personally passed by the Manager”.

I was once told by an Italian that sharks do appear in Italian waters sometimes but “they are very casual”.  Wonderful images of Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses.

Then I feel guilty laughing, as this level of English is far higher than anything I can manage in any language other than my own.

However, I don’t apologise for finding the following absolutely hilarious.  It comes from an Austrian company which was offering its wine list to a beer and wine importer I was working for.  The descriptions of these wines were wonderful and I present some of them to you, typed EXACTLY as in the letter.

“ripened in oak – caks which impart a special aroma to the wine, amasing well matured, soft note of pepper”

“light – reeby with a pab – violet edge, with a tied – up cherry – fruit, for the palate it’s a soft and classical fruit.  Fresh and dry faded away.”

“light, reductif colour, perfume of green apples, phantastic sourness.”




  1. Do you know about http://www.engrish.com ?

  2. darn it, David beat me to it!
    enjoying the website, keep it up!

  3. As an English teacher to adult migrants/refugees, I have seen/heard some doozies! Those electronic dictionaries are particualrly bad offenders!

    I’m off to check out http://www.engrish.com (thanks David)


  4. I have to send you congratulations for making me cry twice in the last 12 hours — once at hearing your story on David’s podcast last night and a second time this morning while reading about delectable Austrian wines. Welcome to the blogging fold and I’m looking forward to following your adventures!

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