20 May 2010

English As She Is Taught

So a couple of months ago I stole some books from some orphans. Now, it may be hard to believe, but this vicious theft was performed entirely innocently. It's a boring story and not worth going into, really. But it happened.

Among these books is a great Collected Essays and Writings of Mark Twain.  Some of them were old favorites, but others were entirely new to me.  Currently my favorite is "English As She Is Taught," a humorous recounting of a book that contains some amusing mistakes by children, with a large number of funny eggcorns. You can read the whole thing here, but below are some of my favorites.

Some attempts at defining vocabulary words:
  • ABORIGINES, a system of mountains.
  • ALIAS, a good man in the Bible.
  • EQUESTRIAN, one who asks questions.
  • FRANCHISE, anything belonging to the French.
  • IDOLATER, a very idle person.
Some geography attempts:
  • In Austria the principal occupation is gathering Austrich feathers.
  • Gibraltar is an island built on a rock.
  • The two most famous volcanoes of Europe are Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • Gorilla warfare was where men rode on gorillas.
  • John Brown was a very good insane man who tried to get fugitives slaves into Virginia. He captured all the inhabitants, but was finally conquered and condemned to his death. The confederasy was formed by the fugitive slaves.
  • Alfred the Great reigned 872 years. He was distinguished for letting some buckwheat cakes burn, and the lady scolded him.
  • Henry Eight was famous for being a great widower haveing lost several wives.
  • Lady Jane Grey studied Greek and Latin and was beheaded after a few days.
I think this is my favorite, though. It seems to manage to conflate the original quote by Caesar with a more contemporary and similar pun:

  • Julius Caesar is noted for his famous telegram dispatch I came I saw I conquered.

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