Effle from an Armenian textbook

In an earlier entry, I mentioned the term Effle. (EFL = English as a Foreign Language). The Effle page defines it as follows:

Effle is grammatical English which could never be uttered because it has little meaning and could never be put into a sensible context. There is lots of Effle in textbooks of English for foreign learners and in sets of exercises.

This topic was taken up by both desbladet and Mark Liberman at language log.

The language log defines Effle as ‘the pseudo-language of many phrase books’. I think this is right. I don’t think it is English for foreigners, but the kind of English you get if you translate literally textbook passages in books for learning other languages.

Anyway, I can’t pass up the opportunity of quoting from my favourite source, a book called ‘I am Learning Armenian’, ‘prepared by Krikor Afarian (Teacher and Journalist), second edition 1978, Shirak Press, Beirut.

I am not and never have been learning Armenian (I think my Armenian friend Jeanette Haritounian – where are you now, Jeanette? – was interested when I first got it. The alphabet is offputting (invented by the immortal St. Mesrob at the beginning of the 5th century A.D.).

The lessons start off with mere lists of words, later with a sentence or two added, and eventually consisting of a number of sentences, not a coherent text. I quote from Lesson 21, Revision:

Yezneeg likes very much the meat of the hen.
Ara combs his hair.
The hedgehog is a little beast.
Aimma feeds her young ass.
The silk-worm is very useful.
The nasty mouse ate the cheese.

The word lists seem random: Lesson 22: ‘field-glass, mask, drawer, money, man, he or she put, vegetable-marrow, pr. noun of boy’ and then ‘Hrant ate that vegetable-marrow’

Some more sentences at random:

Prunes and raisins to our Arpeeg.
Let me eat the fish and throw the mouse, let me throw the mouse and eat the fish.
The lazy cicada bawls.
Mr. Hampartzoom is a tall, thin, white-haired old man.
It’s Dr. Kevorkian.

Here are some facts about Armenian from UCLA.

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