"Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect." - Mark Twain
Historical and linguistic works are among humanity’s greatest achievements. They enable us to investigate, uncover, communicate and grow. Another area that this book supports better is our innate human need to laugh. ‘English as She is Spoke, or A Jest in Sober Earnest’ was published in the eighteenth century, as a phrasebook of sorts designed for the adventurous Portuguese aristocrat. Pedro Carolino and in some lesser part Jose Fonseca worked this into existence, and by historical anomaly it was published for our future enjoyment. There was only one small flaw in this masterful plan, that the author of this book did not himself speak English. He relied extensively on dictionary material and literal translation of idiom which has inadvertently created a treasure trove for those who enjoy linguistic oddity and an accidental satire of idiom. The comedic genius of the work is enhanced substantially by the fact that the author clearly intended to deliver merely factual information and socially appropriate advice but has farcically managed to create an inappropriate and often ludicrous work of linguistic advice.
Anyone with the faintest interest in knowing what it might be to ‘craunch a marmoset’ or whether a member of their prospective ship’s crew has ‘never not done a wreck’ can only do themselves a favour and browse the pages. Whilst some of the unintended innuendo or outrageousness stands as a fantastic comedy resource by itself, there is also a subtler comedy about the formation of idiom and proverb in our English language, French and Portuguese.