I don't usually open 419-scam emails, but I happened to glance at this one, and was amused at a particular phrase:

Dear Sir/Ma,

My name is Mr.Gat Butu

I am from Portugal. I have been diagnosed

with Esophageal cancer. It

has defiled all forms of medical treatment,and right now I have only

about a few months to live, according to medical experts.

I think the idea of a form of cancer that defiles all forms of medical treatment is kind of poetic. Ptooey! I spit on your medical treatment!

Okay, here's a bonus spam quote, from a different 419 scam email:

Dear friend

I am writting this letter with due respect and heartful of tears since we have not known or met ourselves previously.

That's pretty deep. It makes me wonder: have I ever really known or met myself previously? I'll have to think about that.

I know, I know, it's bad form to make fun of stuff written by non-native speakers, and my attempts at writing in a foreign language would be a lot more laughable. But sometimes I can't resist.

3 Responses to “defiled”

  1. Lee

    You’d be surprised by the stuff written by native speakers, myself included!
    Have fun:

  2. Jed

    Yeah, true that native speakers make plenty of mistakes. I generally don’t make fun of people’s writing mistakes in public regardless of whether they’re native speakers or not, but I particularly try to avoid it in cases where people have a good excuse for not being perfectly fluent (such as not being a native speaker).

    Earlier today, someone attempted twice to post a long rant, as a comment here, about the evils of making fun of people for wrong word choice. To that person, I have a couple of responses:

    1. I’m not going to post your comment publicly; it was pretty ranty. If you’d like me to post one of your comments here, please rewrite it to be calmer. Also please re-read the part of my original entry where I said that I know it’s bad form to make fun of non-native speakers but once in a while I’m so tickled by a particularly unusual turn of phrase that I can’t resist posting it.

    2. If you would like to bypass my moderation system and be able to post anything you like on my older entries without getting my approval, all you have to do is sign in. If you don’t have a TypeKey account, you can get one quickly for free. Just click the “sign in” link.

    3. Your point is well-taken; in many cases, the meaning is clear from context even if the specific phrasing is awkward, confusing, or grammatically incorrect. Also, as I hinted in my original entry, I’m completely illiterate in any language other than English; if I were attempting to write a 419 scam letter in some other language, my phrasing would be laughably bad. However, I wouldn’t try to scam people out of their life savings in any language — and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t try to do it in a language I’m not fluent in.

    I guess my original entry could be rewritten as saying something like this:

    Normally I don’t make fun of people, particularly not for lack of fluency in English. But sometimes I see some phrasing that tickles my funnybone enough that I decide, despite my reservations, to post it publicly.


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