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August 2018 M T W T F S S « Jan 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
What are some examples of obfuscation of language to the point of amusement or downright hilarity?
Pidgins have limited vocabularies, because they are by their nature sparse languages, and pidgins sound like colonial language babytalk, because paternalism. And some of the more amusing Pidgin coinages, we can be reasonably sure, are the colonials poking fun at the natives yet again, rather than genuinely used circumlocutions.
Such as, for example, the notorious pseudo-Bislama expression for a piano (Vanuatu: Important Phrases):
Wan bigfala blak bokis hemi gat waet tut mo hemi gat blak tut, sipos yu kilim smol, hemi singaot gud.
Literally; One big fella black box, him he got white tooth and (or more/in addition to) him he got black tooth, suppose you kill him small (strike or hit lightly) him he sing out good.
Yeah… no, as we would say in Australia.
There’s also the obfuscations about obfuscation itself:
“Eschewing obfuscatory verbosity of locutional rendering, the circumscriptional appelations are excised.” (William Mann & Sandra Thompson, Rhetorical Structure Theory: A Theory of Text Organisation, 1987.)