is a throw
of the dice.
do not want
at all times
when the green
of the earth
(Translations of Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet film titles, in MoMA member calendar. Submitted by Howie Good)
Why weren’t you lying down heads-up?
The best and most famous doctors in the city ordered me to sleep like this.
How do you know he’s not coming in by the other gate?
When he arrives back, will you tell him that I stopped by?
Time, my good man, to mix me some dark wine.
I’m not thirsty.
Do me the favor while I’m still alive.
How long were their necks, that they could drink from something so deep!
Have my dinner-clothes sent here.
Since you’re under an oath, here’s the fifty thousand. But throw in for free a small casket, in case I need it for my son.
Now you’re mad that you found me screwing your mother for the first time ever!
So is she your daughter?
(You have no clue who your real father is.)
First murder your own children and then tell me to kill mine:
Father, you eat the children; I’ll take mother.
(It’s polite to call her Ma’am.)
She was a fighter.
What made you do it?
The time will come when I’ll build a threshing-floor so big that I won’t be able to see you and you won’t be able to see me.
I got something I wasn’t bargaining for:
Me, now that I’m alone –
Thanks to buddies like you!
(Look after them well.)
There are a few fire-logs still left. If you want to stop suffering, get yourself cremated on them.
Because you love me.
But what if the boy dies during the night and I lose my fee?
(If he had lived, he would have been all of those things!
If he were guilty of all that, he should have been cremated while still alive.)
What’s your rate for the night?
You can choose. But we don’t have a crumb.
Do you want me to get healthy and be forced to pay the doctor?
Alas, what shall I do? I am torn betwixt two evils!
(Punchlines from the Philogelos, the earliest known joke book. Submitted by Daniel Galef)
To integrate into society
The difficulties of adapting
A kind deed
To take advantage of
To belong to
To be a part of
An opposing argument
(Translations from a French class vocabulary list. Submitted by Mim Beech)
Right, proper, correct.
Exact, standardized, just so.
Primary, chief, main.
Placed or situated in the middle.
Just now, right now.
Puts right, rectifies.
Translingual definitions of the character 正 . Submitted by Daniel Galef.
House to which the high tide comes
Grizzly bear house
Grizzly bear’s mouth’s house
House making a noise
House of dishes
House of contentment
House of the stormy sea
Grizzly bear house (again)
Thunder and lightning house
Dugout house – Chief Skidegate’s house
House in which people must shout to be heard
House chiefs peep at from a distance
House on which storm clouds make a noise
Always wanting more house
Mosquito hawk house
House people are ashamed to look at – it is so great
From a diorama in the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, noted around 2000. Translations of house names from the original native American dialect of the Haida people. Submitted by Simon Williams.
I want a specimen of your urine.
I have my own syringe.
I had a suckling brother,
who died at the most tender age.
The beast had a human body,
the feet of a buck, and
a horn on its head.
The corpse will be taken to Tonga.
Because I was out buying a pair of wooden shoes,
I had yams and fish for two days,
and then I ate fern roots.
At what time were these branches
eaten by the rhinoceros?
I don’t play the violin, but I love cheese.
‘Useless phrases drawn from actual phrasebooks by Swedish linguist Mikael Parkvall, from Limits of Language, 2006,’ from Futility Closet. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.
Do not lean out
Do not punch the horse
Night of the tinsel hen
A rather loose translation of a warning sign in a New Zealand train, February 2011. Submitted by Noah Slater.
N’avez-vous pas des griddle-cakes?
Quelle espèce de dump is this, anyhow?
Appelez-vous cela coffee?
Où est le N.Y. Times?
What’s the matter?
Don’t you understand English?
De tous les pays godams que j’ai vu.
Je n’ai pas vu une belle femme jusqu’à présent.
Ici est où nous used to come
quand j’étais ici pendant la guerre.
Say, ceci est de la bière vrai!
O boy! Deux semaines from tomorrow
nous sail for home. Sogleich wir zu hause sind,
geh ich zum Childs und eine tasse kaffee
und ein glass eiswasser kaufen.
The translated Phrases most in demand by American visitors to Paris, compiled by Robert Benchley, via Futility Closet, 7 October 2010. Submitted by Gabriel Smy.