Posted by Ward on November 23, 2004

In Reply to: Interesting posted by Jose Carlos on November 23, 2004

: : : Hi:

: : : We have got a very curious expression in Brazilian Portuguese dating back to the end of the traffic of slaves, as was being promoted by England in the second half of the 19th century. England and Brazil had signed a treaty, according to which the latter had to patrol her coasts in order to control the traffic and arrest any ship trying to bring in more slaves. As could be expected, the Brazilian government was only half-heartedly doing its part, as it had a clear interest in keeping the slave business going on under the counter. So, the patrolling was ficticious and rather ineffective, and in good Portuguese "só para inglês ver", in other words: just for the Englishmen to see. This expression "só para inglês ver" is still very much in force even to-day, although very few people probably know the origin. The equivalent in English could be do something "just for show", "just for effect", "just for the sake of appearances". Any other ideas? Well, I thought the English members of this forum would be delighted to know that involuntarily their ancestors made a very interesting contribution to our vernacular, even if the context (slavery) was a very unfortunate one.

: : : Jose Carlos

: : I wonder if there are any more like that one in other languages?

: Hi Word camel:

: This is not what you are looking for, but irrelevant to the question at hand as it may be, I have always wondered why the English say "take French leave" while the French say "filer à l'anglaise"? Is this a reflection of their typical rivalry? One is accusing the other of having no manners?

: Jose Carlos

English executives in Coventry used a term 'French letter' which was to be employed while on French leave. Don't know if this is still in use.