Thursday, September 08, 2016

Screwed Up English by Charlie Croker

Supposedly, everything in Screwed Up English is from a sign or brochure or website or some other real-world thing in which someone for whom English is not a first language tries and fails to communicate something clearly. And, inevitably, those mis-communications are funny.

I suspect that a large proportion of the pieces are are legendary rather than real -- I don't know if that's 10% or 50%, but I can't believe that everything here, in its raw unsourced form, is exactly as it appeared in the world. Human beings are too prone to clean things up and make them look more impressive for that. But some of this is real, and probably most of it. I don't doubt the pictures, for one thing.

Those of us who speak English as a first language can read a book like this and feel superior to those poor sods who screwed it up. But I like to always point out that I can't speak their language -- no matter which one it is, since I've got various dialects of English and nothing else -- so my pointing and laughing should be quiet and decorous and circumspect. Perhaps yours will be as well.

But in any case, this is an amusing little book, and particularly interesting for writers -- seeing ways that words can go wrong is very helpful for anyone who wants to make sure they go exactly right.

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