Sunday, April 23, 2006

OOTJ gets you ready for the Global Market! Learn Fake French, Ersatz German and Pseudo Spanish!

Librarians and lawyers alike need to get ready for the increasingly global nature of our work. Publishers, legal careers and law firms are all becoming more global. OOTJ cannot pretend to be ready to help you in Asia, alas, be we can help you with European languages. If, like so many English-speakers, you never really mastered another language, we are here to give you a "Quick Start" (I think I may trademark this slogan, it's so cute!).

The first thing you need to be ready to do is greet somebody, say please and thank you. We will focus on three Euro languages that pretty much cover many, many others. German is very understandable to Dutch, Danish, Norwegians and Swedes, being closely related to these languages. (Also, I remember a smattering of college German and know almost much nothing of these other northern-European languages, so, there you are). French, you have to learn because the French just demand it, darn it. And Spanish is very understandable to Italians and (amazingly enough) Romanians -- also, again, I know Spanish, so there. O - kay, here we go:


Greeting: Guten tag (goot-in tog) = good day
Please: Bitte (bit-tuh)
Thank you: Danke (donk-uh)


Greeting: Bon jour (bohn zhour [really hard to describe]) = good day
Please: S'il vous plait (see voo play)
Thank you: Merci (mare-see)

Spanish (frustrating without accents)

Greeting: Buenos dias (bweh-nos dee-us) = good day
Please: Por favor (pour fah-vore)
Thank you: Gracias (grah-see-oss)

Now, we are ready to strike out into really creative country!
You are ready to learn how to speak Ersatz German, Fake French and Pseudo Spanish!
Aha! You say, how will that win friends and impress people? OOTJ answers: it will show that you are working hard to prepare yourself for the global economy, and, even though you suffer from the handicap of speaking English as a native, you are making an earnest effort!

Fake French

This is perhaps the easiest to pull off. One simply sprinkles Vous and Moi into the conversation instead of You and I or Me. Miss Piggy of the Muppets perfected this language and used it to great effect. If you ever want to hear it spoken so you can pull it off better, rent a Muppet movie. You can put in a few other French words if you know them so you can say things like

Moi just loves the nouveau book vous published! Would vous consider signing a copy pour moi?

The ballet was tres beautiful! Merci for taking moi. Moi especially liked the champagne!

Now, you can expand your reach by adding verbs. You can fake French nearly any verb by adding an "ez" on the end and pronouncing it "ay":

Stopez vous tickling moi or moi will have to slapez vous into the next county.

You can also add a few real French words, if you know them. So, fromage, means cheese:

He was tres fromaged off about le bill.


He stolez moi parking spot, et moi was tres pissoired.

You are ready to take Paris by le tempeste!

Ersatz German

Ersatz German is considerably more difficult to do correctly, because it is complicated by the German split verb form. Once you understand this trick, though, it gets much more fun. The split verb goes like this: if you have a verb that involves a form of "is" or "have" and another verb, you have to split them up so that second verb sits at the very end of the sentence. Thus:

I have everything about German forgotten.

Cute, huh? Mark Twain wrote some very funny pieces where he wrote the piece in German (in which he was fluent) and then translated them back into English, keeping the German structure. The fun things about German are that you can use word glue to stick all kinds of words together. You can run words together that are several lines long if you like. When I studied German in college in the 1970's, it was the language of choice for scientific papers because it could be made terribly precise by running all these words together. The word glue is just "en" so you stick the words together by sticking "en" between them:

der Assenholengrabbenmeinenparkenspot

The other rule about Ersatz German is that you create a verb by sticking a "ge" on the front and either a "en" or a "t" on the end:

die balletdancentutuwearenskippenaroundenfrauen have on their heinies geflopt.

Pseudo Spanish

This one is new for me. I think it ought to be pretty important, though, because of the sheer number of Spanish speakers around the globe. Spanish is mostly a very regular language, but the most-used verbs tend to be the irregular ones. We will just skip over that unfortunate detail, because this is Pseudo Spanish, and dazzle 'em with the o and a endings of our nouns. Rule of thumb: if it ends in O, say "el" before it. If it ends in A, say "la" before it:

El hurricano tore el roofo off la oficina.

The next step in Pseudo Spanish, and this is strictly optional, is to create pseudo verbs. The simple way to create fake Spanish verbs:

infinitive form (to run, to jump) = add "ar":

runnar jumpar

past tense (I have run, I have jumped) = I have + {verb+ado}

runnado jumpado

If you are clever, you can say nearly everything you need to say with either infinitive verb forms or this past tense form. I will assume that "Yo quiero" has entered English from those Taco Bell ads. Here we go:

Yo quiero purchasar el booko. But I have over-spentado my budget. I would prefer purchasar it next budget year.

Muchas gracias for a very buenos dia! I like eatar las tapas and drinkar el vino with you.

Please keep in mind that these are all fake versions of the real languages and do not even qualify as pidgin languages. Use them carefully and you should have a great time in the new global environment.

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