August 31, 2005

New Orleans is essentially an arm of the Gulf of Mexico

So say Cornelia Dean and Andrew C. Revkin in today's NYT. After contributing to one of the disaster relief organizations, you might distract yourself up by taking a look at John Cowan's page of Essentialist Explanations. This is essentially a list of 736 sentences of the form <Language X> is essentially <Language Y> <produced under conditions Z>. Some are funny, some are silly, some are mildly offensive, some are nearly true.

A sample:

English is essentially Norse as spoken by a gang of French thugs.
English is essentially the works of Joyce with the hard bits taken out.
Swedish is essentially Norwegian spoken by Finns.
Danish is essentially Norwegian, only you drop out all the consonants, skip all the vowels and then mispronounce the rest.
Spanish is essentially Italian spoken by Arabs.
Francophones are essentially Germans speaking the bad Latin they were taught by Gauls.
French is essentially an attempt by the Dutch to speak a Romance language.
French is essentially a language that elides everything that doesn't get out of the way fast enough, and nasalises everything else.
Russian is essentially Punjabi that fell off the wagon. Contrariwise, Punjabi is essentially Russian with better spices.
Modern Greek is essentially Classical Greek as spoken by Venetians.
Mandarin is essentially Chinese as spoken by Mongols.

Posted by Mark Liberman at August 31, 2005 09:18 AM