Eurolingua Salad

A few days ago I had a delightful meetup with several fellow Esperantists. Esperanto was devised by the Polish doctor and linguist Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof in the 1870’s and 1880’s in the hopes of creating an international language that would be easy for anyone to learn, thus fostering peace and international cooperation. It is, to date, the most successful of all constructed international auxiliary languages.

I fell under the spell of Esperanto in the mid-70’s. While wandering the streets of Villach, Austria, I entered the Kongresshaus and found an International Esperanto Conference in full swing. I picked up a pamphlet or two and discovered (with English, French, German and Italian under my belt) that I could read Esperanto with almost no problem. I was enchanted. Although I never really became fluent in speaking, I can read and write with fair proficiency.

During the course of the gathering, I mentioned this article which I collected years ago – it’s not an official artificial language, but rather a humorous piece which should be readable by just about any European, or other linguist/polyglot worth his or her salt.

Here is a text written in a language which is not taught in any university, but which lends itself well to use on the European continent.

A certain Diego Marani, translator for the European Council, created Europanto, an authentic mixture more or less proportional to all the languages of the community, which has become very successful, even to being published in a Belgian magazine…

As in Bruxelles diem, good lecture und bueno weekend for tu und mein fratello…


Qui ist inspector Cabillot ?

Inspector Cabillot ist le true fonctionner der UEEU wie lutte contra der insjustice y der mal, por der ideal van una Europa unita y democratica in ein world de pax, where se parle eine sola langue, der Europanto.

Cabillot und el misterio der exotische Pralinas

Erat una fria morning de Octubre und ein low fox noyabat las benches der park. Algunos laborantes magrebinos collectabant der litter singing melanconic tunes. Aan el 200th floor des Euro Tower el Chef Inspector General del Service des Bizarre Dingen, Mr What, frapped sur the tabula y said: “Dit is kein blague. Appel rapid Cabillot!”.

Inspector Cabillot put sein rhubarbre lollipop en el tiroir, raccroched der telefon und got aan el cuirassed elevator fur emergence case.

‑ Usted me demanded, Mr. What ?

‑ Ja. Ik hay ein delicaaat mission voor vous. Als you sabez, der UEEU send plenty aid to trio mundo countries y sobre all, butter, second hand velos, italian bien, english wine, old stamps und used tyres. Well, some de esto aid jamas arriva a destinatie. There must est un hole quelquewhere en Sud Amerika, mas exactly, in der Petite Guyane Luxembourgeoise. La is tambien ein kliniek por invalidos funcionarios die is un bit suspecta. Ich want dat Usted va alla ut give un colpo de eye. Usted wil make semblant ein invalido fonctionnaire to be. Sergent Otto Oliveira of de Europese Polizei will mit vous in touch resteren.

‑ Ouivohl, Mr. What.

‑ Il is surtodo el butter que svanish… et we hebben kein indices. Bonne luck, Inspector!

Inspector Cabillot got back dans son oficina por make los bagaages.

‑ Wat bring man en der Petite Guyane Luxembourgeoise, Otto? Asked el aan su beste collaborador.

‑ Sabe niet… maybe ein fishing baton, ein warmawater bouteille, somechose to lire or una hermosa girl… a less que dat kan man op place trovar…

Inspector Cabillot put en la valisa der draft directive van de UEEU on Bolts, Clous und Staples, quelque ananas lollipop (exotische flavour), sein flowered bermudas, ein straw chapeau y ein vocabulair Guyanish ‑ Europanto.

Der dia after, Inspector Cabillot atterred at Paramarange, capital der la Petite Guyane Luxembourgeoise mit the mismo aereo que transportabat el europese aid. Paramarange is ein city maritima, mit viel mundo et un grote harbour.

La erste cosa que Cabillot remarqued was dat presque todos los Paramarangos estaban fat como porcadillos. Partout was plein van pralinas reklames und in aile boutiks erat full van pralinas of todos types.

‑ Man like aqui chocolats un lot! esclamed Cabillot aan el taxista.

‑ Certenly sur ! We tenemos ici los meliores chocolates der monde! People komen out van Switzerland fur nuestros chocolates to kopen. Where va Usted ?

‑ Aan la kliniek Hemelpax.

‑ Oh, est vous ein van aquellos very muchos enerved people ?

‑ Not vraiement…

Parte zwei

La klinika erat un basse edifizio blanco mit verde fenestras and lindo jardino florido. Aan la entry was Dr. Hookers, el director des klinika, expectante.

“Mr. cabillot, Ich suppose … ”

“Le same, Herr doctor!”

“Bienkomen en Hemelpax! Se fasse comfortable en my oficio, bitte! Frau Hassenpain, prepare please de room 23!

” Dr. Hookers fermed de porta und sitted in sua fauteuil.

“Dear Menheer Cabillot, vous will vedere que hier sta man in pax und Brussel will presto become eine far away memoria for usted! Ich sais que usted esse nicht eine grave case. Una belangrijkissima cosa: remenbere de never prononze ici de mot ‘Communautes economiques europeennes’ of ‘Union europeenne’.

There ist ici people que quando this entende jump en l’aere like uno emflammado und commencia te pleure, te hurle, te sich arrache los cabillos van der tete. Ici man sobreall must dormiren. In der postmeridio est quelqunas activitades distractiva como de promenada nel park or una pied‑balle partida, fur exemplo, la Commission contra el reste del mundo. El sunday postmeridio ist la projectio del film (siempre lo meme, para not emoxionar too mucho los esprits) ‘Gone with de invaliditeit’. Ik espero dat usted wil aqui happy esse. Du kan maintenante un look autour della cite habe. Aqui se mange at sept ‘o cloque. Hasta la vue, Mr. Cabillot!”

El doctor se leved und accompanied Cabillot aan la door. En sortendo, Cabillot remarqued Frau Hassenpain qui espiabat uit den fenestra.

Paramarange ist una very folle cite y der pueblo est calientissimo. Everyrodo mange pralinas non‑stop und wenn mange overdose commenza a danzer la Tarabomba qui ist eine tipik bal, very desfrenado und decambolante. Le long des stradas erat pienty van ‘tarabombos’ (los ballerines de Tarabomba) dechainados qui ballabant under el heat der sol. In eine cafe on der plaza, Cabillot tasted quelqunas pralinas and aan lui tambien le came envie de danzar one poco.

Quella tarde, en el restorant de la klinika, Cabillot mangesd echet paramarangas specialitades

Moules au chocolat* Emince de mouette au cacao avec pralines frites Salade aux quatre chocolats Chocolat chaud (cuvee 1978).

“Un bit van butter ?” demander Frau Hassenpain en serving el dish. “Nein, gracias, ich like le butter niks” responded Cabillot. But Frau Hassenpain let le butter sobre la tabla. “Strange Frau” pensed Cabillot. Entorno de lui los autros pazientos des klinika mangiabant silentes, mit les eyes ekarkillados. Aquella noche, Cabillot dormed mal und dreamed grosse waitresses que danzabant la Tarabomba en topless sur la playa.

Le morgen, Cabillot se leved et se promened eine peu in der klinika. Parfois le parebat de sentir uno sound, like moteurs tournant. El monted todos los floors, mais es impossible was naar de caves te descendre. De porta was zu. Por el breakfasto, el decided de mange leger : only uno the al chocolate. “Sommige butter?” demanded Frau Hassenpain.

“Le said deja que no! Ich like el butter niks!” responded brutalmente Cabillot. Todo el dag Cabillot permaned en la terrazze de la klinika, chassando las mouches und lisando el jourpaper de Paramarange, “Una Van Deze Soirs”. El went dormir early, mit uno grosse mal au belly. But , dat nacht tambien el dormed not. Il y was eine bruit, eine mysterioso bruit que lo deranged. Descendendo en le hall om eine the chocolats te drinken, Cabillot antended eine cri. El ran to la kitchen. Sur le floor stabat Frau Hassenpain, mit eine knife enfonced in de poitrine y der bouche full van chocolat.

* In alles gut restorantes, ist la karte toujours in Franzose gewritten.

Con AGIP, c’è di più!


Vintage print ad for AGIP gasoline. “On every Italian road with ‘supercortemaggiore’, the powerful Italian gasoline – Drive farther, use less.” Reminds me of the old Shell ads touting the mileage-stretching benefits of “platformate;” what they failed to mention was that every gasoline contained it… they were just the first ones to make a big deal about it.

Bless you!

How you sneeze in public:


How you sneeze when you’re alone:


(With apologies to Don Martin)

A cherished colleague of mine who passed away far too soon after a battle with cancer had her office two doors down from mine on the 21st floor of our building. This dear lady had a sneeze that would rattle the windows on the ground floor, and every time I heard her let fly I’d email her a drawing of a mop and bucket, or Noah’s flood, something similar; one day I sent her the image above which I dashed off for her benefit. I’d know she had gotten it when I heard her laugh, which was almost as loud.

Some myths about sneezing:

Your heart stops when you sneeze.  When your chest contracts because of a sneeze, your blood flow is momentarily constricted as well. As a result, the rhythm of your heart may change, but it definitely doesn’t stop.

You can’t keep your eyes open when you sneeze. If you do, your eyeballs will pop out. Most people naturally close their eyes when they sneeze, but if they are able to keep them open, their eyes stay firmly planted in their heads where they belong. Your blood pressure may spike momentarily, but that’s about it.

If you sneeze X times in a row, you’ll have an orgasm. No idea who came up with this one – although sneezing releases endorphins and can feel good, there’s no relationship between sneezing and sex.

Some facts about sneezing:

The Greek word for sneeze is πνεῦμα (pneuma) which means “soul or spirit.” In ancient times, people believed that sneezing was a near-death experience; a blessing would keep your soul from escaping, and protect you from the devil who is just waiting to come in.

A sneeze can travel up to one hundred miles per hour. The particles and spit emitted when we sneeze can travel up to five feet away, and the bacteria sent into the air by our sternutation can spread up to 150 feet away.

If you sneeze on Monday, you sneeze for danger;
Sneeze on Tuesday, you kiss a stranger;
Sneeze on Wednesday, you sneeze for a letter;
Sneeze on a Thursday, for something better;
Sneeze on a Friday, you sneeze for sorrow;
Sneeze on a Saturday, your sweetheart tomorrow;
Sneeze on a Sunday, your safety seek,
The devil will have you the whole of the week.

The sounds of sneezing around the world:

English: Achoo!
French: Atchoum!
Greek: αψoύ! (apsou)
Italian: Etciù!
Japanese: hakushon!
Swedish: Atjo!
Spanish: !Atchús!
Russian: Apchkhi!
German: Hatchi!

Mom was not expecting this…


Everyone sneezes.

(Imgur image by ControversyPeanut)

And some people absolutely know how to get maximum value out of a good sneeze photo:

Calvin Sneeze

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

To your health!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Astronomer Pranks



From Shorpy, Washington, D.C. “Prof. H.E. Burton, 8/5/29.” A Star Search matinee. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

There was a time when astronomers actually looked into their telescopes, instead of working at remote locations on sophisticated digital (or a bit earlier, photographic) equipment. But one can imagine that there were times when things got a bit boring in the observatory, and then idle minds became the devil’s workshop.

Al Frueh proposed just such an incident in 1937, in the New York Times. Here’ for your gratuitous pleasure, is reproduced


Al Frueh - The Jest (Astronomers)


As a kid, I had one of those little black eye tubes. It worked great. And just in case you think old guys can’t be trolls,

Old Troll


Watch out for retired people. We have the time to make your life hell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.