Will the real Ceadúnas Tiomána please step forward?

Thanks to Richard Veryard for spotting this and Twittering about it…

Apparently the Gardai noticed that a disproportionate number of motoring offences were being committed by a Mr Prawo Jazdy. On investigation, this turns out to be the Polish for “driving licence”.

It reminded me of my father’s stories of English army officers trying to map the interior of southern Arabia with the help of native guides. The officers typically didn’t speak much Arabic (beyond useful map-maker’s phrases like “what’s this called?”), and the guides, soon growing bored, started to give frivolous and sometimes coarse answers. As you might well do, given the priceless opportunity to put one over on the colonial intruder.

The mischief was often only discovered when users of the resulting maps, more versed in the Arabic language, found they were navigating via features such as “My *rsehole”, “What do you think?” and “Mt. Your Finger”. I don’t know how the guides could have kept a straight face.

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