Friday, July 7, 2006

One Thing Leads to Another

With the holiday and all, I got to wondering whether any other countries have a phrase comparable to "As American as the Fourth of July."  

So I started with our British cousins and Googled "as English as".  This is what I found:

As English as God -- from an article about a British novelist in the Atlantic online.
As English as daffodils and tikka masala -- from a London newspaper quoted in someone's blog.

But by far my favorite was from Wikipedia:

English as She Is Spoke is the common name of a 19th-century book credited to José da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino, which was intended as a Portuguese-English conversational guide or phrase book, but is regarded as a classic source of unintentional humour

Sentence in Portuguese           Given translation          Idiomatic translation
As paredes têm ouvidos.       The walls have hearsay.     The walls have ears.
A estrada é segura?                Is sure the road?               Is the road safe?
Sabe montar a cavalo.     He know ride horse.    He knows how to ride a horse.
Que horas são?                      What o'clock is it?           What time is it?
Que faz ele?                           What do him?               What is he doing?
Tenho vontade de vomitar.      I have mind to vomit.      I feel like vomiting.

ORIGINAL: Este lago parece-me bem piscoso. Vamos pescar para nos divertirmos.

GIVEN TRANSLATION: That pond it seems me many multiplied of fishes. Let us amuse rather to the fishing.

IDIOMATIC TRANSLATION: This lake seems like it's full of fish. Let's have some fun fishing.

But that's just the BRITS' version of As American as the Fourth.

Canada is also amusing -- I found this story when I Googled As Canadian As:

True story, related by author Margaret Atwood in an interview.

Somebody in Canada started a contest to come up with a saying analogous to "As American as apple pie." The idea was to finish this sentence: "As Canadian as..."

The winner: "As Canadian as possible under the circumstances."

When I googled "As French As" -- I got a reference at a blog called Spinsanity which had a reference to a former presidential candidate as you'll see:

Washington Times editor-in-chief Wesley Pruden . . .began by stating "You have to feel a spot of sympathy for someone who looks as French as John Kerry".

Google provided other references, such as As French as Paris,, as French as Jennifer Lopez and Christopher Walken are American.  But I gave John Kerry the nod for stupidity. In a good way.

Returning to American references, I found As New York as cheesecake. As Wisconsin as cheese curds. Which I would change to Cheesheads. As Michigan as a Ford was another, which I would change to an Edsel.

Which made me realize that I could do this with or without Google.

As Cuban as Bill Clinton's cigars.
As Italian as Chianti, piccante, and spumanti
As Polish as a kielbasa -- in Roman Polanski's trousers
As Russian as vodka straight from the bottle out of the freezer
As Irish as Paddy's goat, Paddy's pig, O'Hanlon's breech, gin and orange. . .barnyard pets and booze pretty much cover Irish comparisons, except for the O'Hanlon's breech, which I think is a  16th century reference to a guy's crotch.

All these comparisons made me wonder if I accidentally stumbled on the origins of YO MAMA jokes. Perhaps they started out with YO MAMA is as ugly as -- which morphed into YO MAMA is SO ugly that -- wait -- here it comes -- your daddy takes her to work so he won't have to kiss her goodbye. 

Yep, there's a load of websites with nothing but YO MAMA jokes. 

And I was just riffing on the Fourth of July.



screaminremo303 said...

I always thought John Kerry had the look of a deeply constipated man. I guess that's about the same as being French.

As American as product liability lawsuits.

swibirun said...

I heard Omz say "I have mind to vomit" before.....