I have long enjoyed languages and wordplay. Unsurprisingly, multilingual wordplay amuses me all the more greatly. I decided some time ago to share my interest through this blog. Each entry will consist of an example of particularly creative or odd wordplay (usually multi- but occasionally monolingual) and an explanation, which will be hidden for those who don’t want the joke spoiled. Most of the jokes I devise will be in some mixture of English, Swedish, and German, since those are the languages I speak, but I encourage readers to submit their own tricks in any languages at their command.
I coined the phrase “linguistic parlor tricks” as part of an assignment for a college playwriting class. In one scene, a Russian-born character named Simon addresses an American character named David as “Dabug.” Understandably, David is confused. Simon explains that “David” as spelled in Cyrillic cursive letters looks very much like “Dabug” in Roman letters. Not amused, David snaps back at Simon, “Listen, I didn’t call you for a lesson in linguistic parlor tricks.” And no, I can’t take credit for devising that particular trick. I first learned about it from someone who used dabug in his email address.