A lifetime ago I worked for a Japanese carmaker that imported cars as well as manufacturing them here. One of the most interesting jobs in the company was that of a mate who had to interpret Japanese attempts at English and rewrite the instruction manual so the average Australian owner could understand it. It was good work, interesting and, at times, thoroughly comical. Mind you, it would have been different had we attempted a translation of English into Japanese!
My mate worked in a ‘foreign’ language known as Japlish (or Japanese English), which wasn’t his term because it had been in common use for many years. In time it was adapted to become, among others, Chinglish (Chinese English) and Yanklish (American English) both of which can be problematic — especially, perhaps, the latter.
We all know how tricky it can be on seeing notices such as this outside a Beijing business while under renovation: “Please forgive to be incontinent when in decoration”. Or, perhaps, that old clanger made by a visiting American: “Jeez, buddy, I’d root for her,” which would more politely be expressed, “Friggin hell, mate, I’d barrack for her.” (Or simply drop the conjunction ‘for’ from the Yank’s comment!)
Australians speak English, after a fashion but, to be fair, should a term Auslish (or Ockerish) be struck? We must admit to a form of speech (or, at least, a variance) that can be difficult for others to understand. Just a few Australianisms include the selection below:
Of course on it goes. I’ll go back further, to a time when we were truly inventive in our speech and some of the expressions that made our language truly unique. The sayings of our forefathers were truly expressive and even, at times, lyrical:
This is an incompleat anthology. I use it to show the inventiveness used by our forefathers in development of colloquial language, something that happens in all languages, not only English and not merely across borders.
As an example, there are at least 30 acknowledged dialects in England itself — Cockney, Brummie, Geordie, West Country, East Anglian, and so on — so is it any wonder we developed our own, especially with the rough language spoken by a great many of our first white settlers? They provided an interesting legacy.
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