Pillow Talk (1959)

When I started watching Douglas Sirk’s melodramas last week, Rock Hudson made me think of those old romantic comedies with Doris Day. When I was a kid, in the Eighties, Spanish television repeated a lot that kind of films, and I loved them, but I haven’t watched any of them since then. I thought that maybe right now this kind of films could seem too innocent, or even reactionary, but the truth is that Pillow Talk is still funny, and not so naive as I remembered it.

English As She Is Spoke

English as She Is Spoke is the common name of a 19th century book written by Pedro Carolino and falsely additionally credited to José da Fonseca, which was intended as a Portuguese-English conversational guide or phrase book, but is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour, as the given English translations are generally completely incoherent. Carolino added Fonseca’s name to the book without the latter knowing about it. Fonseca had written a successful Portuguese-French phrase book, which Carolino adapted.

The humour appears to be a result of dictionary-aided literal translation, which causes many idiomatic expressions to be translated wildly inappropriately. For example, the Portuguese phrase chover a cântaros is translated as raining in jars, whereas an idiomatic English translation would be raining buckets.

Mark Twain said of English as She Is Spoke that “Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.”

Complete facsimile of English as She Is Spoke (1883)