Language Fun


A truck loaded with thousands of copies of Roget's Thesaurus crashed as it left a New York publishing house last Thursday, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, confused, punchy, shocked, rattled, paralyzed, dazed, bewildered, mixed up, surprised, awed, dumbfounded, nonplused, flabbergasted, astounded, amazed, confounded, astonished, boggled, overwhelmed, horrified, numbed, and perplexed.

An Enterprising Translator

A Mexican bandit made a specialty of crossing the Rio Grande from time to time and robbing banks in Texas. Finally, a reward was offered for his capture and an enterprising Texas Ranger decided to track him down. After a lengthy search, he traced the bandit to his favorite cantina, snuck up behind him, put his trusty six- shooter to the bandit's head, and said, "You're under arrest. Tell me where you hid the loot or I'll blow your brains out." But the bandit didn't speak English, and the Ranger didn't speak Spanish. Fortunately, a translator was in the saloon and offers to translate for the Ranger. He tells the bandit, he is under arrest, and the ranger wants to know where he hid the loot. The bandit replies in Spanish "Go to hell!". The ranger tells the translator "Did you tell him I will shoot him, if he doesn't tell me?". The translator repeats this to the bandit. The bandit spits at the ranger. The ranger shoots him in the kneecap and puts the gun again to the bandits head. He tells the translator "Tell him this is his last chance. He tells me where the money is, or I kill him." The bandit is screaming in pain and cursing the ranger. But he is also scared for his life now. The terrified bandit blurts out, in Spanish, that the money from all his robberies is buried under the oak tree in back of the cantina. "What did he say?" asks the Ranger. The translator answers, "He said 'Get lost, Gringo. You wouldn't dare kill me.'"

Joys of Conjugation

A businessman arriving in Boston for a convention found that his first evening was free, and he decided to go find a good seafood restaurant that served Scrod, a Massachussetts specialty. Getting into a taxi, he asked the cab driver, "Do you know where I can get Scrod around here?" "Sure," said the cabdriver. "I know a few places... but I can tell you it's not often I hear someone use the third-person pluperfect indicative anymore!"

Double Negatives Defined

A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative." A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."