November 18, 2004

Translation quiz: Canadian

A language translation quiz for polyglot readers: in the regular Back Page feature in the latest New Yorker (11/22/04, p. 108 of the print edition) Bruce McCall has a very funny spoof application form for disillusioned Democrats to apply for permanent Canadian residence. Question 8 says:

Translate the following statement: "Cripes, grade thirteen! Here's a loonie — buy a Coffee Crisp, eh?"

A note on the form adds:

This is really just practice for when or if you come here to live; best to get used to the idea that even if Canadian language isn't really distinctive, like, say, Hungarian or Finnish, we do sometimes use funny-sounding words and phrases, so "forewarned is forearmed"!

Personally I can't make heads or tails of it. Give me Finnish any time. Translate yliopistokirjakauppa. Piece of cake. The answer is here. But the answer for the Canadian quiz above will be not be given until tomorrow, when Bill Poser, long-time Canadian resident, may be able to deal with it. Or possibly not.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at November 18, 2004 10:43 PM