From Margaret Marks’s Transblawg I learned of the term effle, meaning “grammatical English which could never be uttered because it has little meaning and could never be put into a sensible context” (and derived from the abbreviation EFL ‘English as a Foreign Language’). Now Margaret has added an entry providing some hilarious examples from a book called I am Learning Armenian, “prepared by Krikor Afarian (Teacher and Journalist), second edition 1978, Shirak Press, Beirut,” beginning with “Yezneeg likes very much the meat of the hen” and ending with the very final-sounding “It’s Dr. Kevorkian.”


  1. My hovercraft is full of eels.

  2. And this: Le sange est sur la branche.

  3. Ionesco also wrote a French textbook with nonsense example sentences. I saw it once by for whatever reason couldn’t buy it.

  4. “by” = “but”

  5. I mentioned the Ionesco play – I think you mean that – in a slightly earlier entry. It’s ‘The Bald Prima-Donna’ / ‘La Cantatrice Chauve’.

  6. And I know it as “The Bald Soprano.” Translated titles of works are a subject I’ll have to do a post on one of these days.

  7. Dear Margaret, Yours in one site I was thinking about visiting all the time. I am finally where I have always wanted to be. The ‘template’ is cool and I reckon you ar on to some good cut-n-paste job here. I appreciate it! I am going to be back here to get my homework. Keep up the post. I read your last post was recently ( Dec 20) so I can be sure you are not just flirting with a blog. Best!

  8. Ranas amo, puella, sed non in urnam.

  9. In the hideous Kuzovlyov texts they use out here in the sticks (called “Happy English” – oh, you have no idea), students get to make up their own effle with prefab chunks of sentences. I can’t give you an example because the memories are too painful. I haven’t been able to bear the sight of those things since after my first month of teaching.

  10. The important thing about effle is that it needs to be both effable and ineffable.

  11. Forgot to tell you my favorite effle sentence, from my college Ancient Greek textbook:
    When he speaks, the flies die on the walls.
    I had to go to the dictionary for John’s joke, but now: Ha!

  12. I suppose you’ve all already read about anti-Effle? (The effle fully effed.)

  13. Hey! I recognize that ranas amo sentence! It’s from… er… I don’t remember which textbook, but one of the ones I read in Junior High… maybe Iulia? Latin For Americans? But that should be in urna or in urnis, with the ablative, not the accusative.

  14. “His ineffable, effable, effanineffable deep and inscrutable singular Name.”

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