What I learned from spam lately

Let’s go for a quick dip in the spam bath, everyone, because our lives aren’t absurd enough already.

But first, a health and safety warning. Britain’s big on health and safety warnings. One I heard recently consisted of, “Don’t do anything stupid out there,” and I appreciated how quickly it got to the point.  I’d been thinking of doing several stupid things at once and it saved me from all of them. The warning I’m about to issue is this:

A lot of spam is written by people whose first language isn’t English. (Some of it doesn’t seem to be written by humans at all, but that’s a whole ‘nother issue.) I don’t make fun of people for not writing or speaking perfect English–at least not unless they’re trying to correct mine, as one spammer did. I’ve wrestled with enough languages to have great respect for people who can communicate even marginally in languages they didn’t learn as kids.  But if you’re sending out spam–messages that are meant (I assume, although I’ve never really understood the strategy behind them) to appear professional, or at least coherent–then sorry, but everything’s fair game.

For the record: I speak Spanish just well enough to hear how badly I speak it. I panic in several other languages so effectively that all I can hear is the sound of my brain moving the furniture to look for lost words. I do not send out spam in any of those languages.

Enough of that. Here’s what I found in the blog’s spam folder recently:

“We spent most of my puerility and all of my teenaged holidays near Land’s End, and we visited a few of the ancient monuments.”

Now, I do know puerile‘s a real word, but I’ve never really been able to believe it means childish. I keep thinking it should have something to do with pork. (That’s probably because I learned the Spanish word for pork, puerco, long before I saw the English word puerile, and if the connection isn’t obvious to you, don’t worry about it; it doesn’t have to make sense.) Puerility‘s also a real word, although I’ve never seen it used or heard anyone breathe life into it, so I’m going to guess it’s not on anyone’s top ten most used words list.

In spite of that, I’m prepared to testify that it’s not supposed to be used this way.

Still, I might’ve thought this was a real (if awkward) comment if it hadn’t opened with “Because, permit’s font it, back then the suspect ones would give been those anti-social weirdos who (then as now) opt to sopor alone – always assuming that they could yield their own(a) beds, of class.”

To which I can only say, “Listen, buddy, some people like to sopor alone, in their beds or in the damned kitchen if the mood takes them, and who the hell are you to get all judgemental about it?”

Irrelevant photo: field patterns near the Cornish coast

Whew. I feel better having said that.

Next up: “naturally like your web site but you need to test the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I in finding it very bothersome to inform the truth on the other hand I will definitely come back again.”

I in finding it very bothersome myself. Will somebody hire this person as a proofreader, please? The English language will never be the same.

After that came: “It is essential that women that are pregnant make a labour program ahead of the wedding event arrives. It is because when a girl is at labor, she may possibly struggle to make selections like she generally does. Make sure you possess a handbag stuffed, opt for that you want in the room whenever you give birth.”

Whenever? Excuse me, but giving birth isn’t a whenever kind of event. I know some people have lots of kids–my grandmother had eight–but even then, it’s not something you do on a whim. It’s a big deal, people.

But there’s more here than just that. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I think the writer’s recommending that the woman give birth into the handbag. Or possibly in it. I admit I’ve never given birth, but neither of those seems like a good idea. I haven’t carried a handbag in decades, but I do remember what mine was like when I did. The backseat of my cab would’ve been more sanitary. So would the pavement at the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Seventh Street.

I don’t actually know anyone who’s scheduled a wedding for a time when she was likely to go into labor. But if you’ve got a wedding coming up, it’s something you might want to consider when you get to the part of the brochures that say, “Are you looking for a way to make your big day truly memorable?”

The next comment may be related to the previous one, in a backward sort of way: “Will not spend your money on bedbug bombs. Alternatively, get some good Alpine Dust or some Phantom Aerosol and apply these products to your mattress. These no-repelling merchandise is toxic to sleep pests along with other pest however are extremely hard to identify, which means the insect is not going to conceal from it.”

I’m past the age where it’s is an issue anymore, but there was a time when I’d have paid good money for a phantom aerosol that repelled pests from my bed. Where the hell was this advice when I needed it?

That survey cleaned the best stuff out of my spam folder, but (since we all know you hang on my every word) I thought I owed you more, so I dipped back in over the next couple of weeks and eventually I found this:

“A dog’s label must basically be employed when positively getting together with the animal. Contact the dog’s brand to have him to come to your part or call his brand while you are serving his supper. Don’t, even so, contact your dog’s name if you are unhappy with his or her measures. The canine would in a negative way relate by using penalty.”

Now I do understand that a lot of people on the internet think of themselves (or their pets) as brands and have vague hopes of money flying through their windows if they sell themselves (or their pets) hard enough. And we have two dogs. So far, though, they’re completely innocent of all commercial activity and don’t think of themselves as brands. And for good goddamn reason. No one’s going to look at them and think, If only I had a dog like that my life would be complete. They’re dogs, and most of the time, they smell like dogs. Give them a chance and they’ll roll in dead fish and steal dirty underwear. If they can do both at once, they’ll be in ecstasy.

The point is, I don’t want to contact my dogs’ brand. I’d rather deal with the dogs directly: Bad dog. Put the underwear back where you found it, and no, we’re not going to negotiate this through your agent. Until you learn to dial the phone yourself, you don’t have an agent.

120 thoughts on “What I learned from spam lately

  1. In French “puérilité” doesn’t mean childhood at all, it is the main translation of childishness. . In the same way “puéril/puérile” is the normal translation of childish .
    Your confusion about puerco and pueril shows you didn’t learn that what matters in the transmission of languages across different times and regions are only consonants . For someone who knows a bit about this, the presence of the central “c” in puerco asolutely prevents it from being related to “pueril” .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love it, Ellen. I have some weird stuff too, lurking in my spam folder. I might have to drag it out, roll around in it for a while and then do something funny with it. But it probably won’t be in any way as funny as this post. You are the Queen of Spamecdotes!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Ah, I see I’m not the only one that regularly visits the comment’s spam folder looking for tidbits of wisdom! Sometimes these spammer-poets leave us comments in Spanish or Portuguese, which have the same level of grammatical innovation as the English ones.

    By the way, “pueril” for me also has a culinary connotation, as it reminds me of “puré”, the Portuguese word for mashed potatoes. If I wasn’t a vegetarian I would gladly combine your pueril with mine and enjoy a homely meal.

    – Verne

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh my… thanks for the good giggles! This post started my day just beautifully :) It also reminded me about my spam file, which I hadn’t visited for a while… And I found gems in it too… I might put one or two online later, but my post will never be as entertaining as yours is… LOL Have a great weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Next time I see a bride carrying a large-ish handbag, I’m going to duck out the back of the church.

    I’ll see about contacting Irish Setter, inc. about the various issues we have with Maddie. Damn, I said her name. She noticed. I’m doomed.

    I’ve got some tasks to complete today, then I plan to sopor, but I doubt anyone here will wing to join me.

    Thanks for a Friday chuckle.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Remember how it was to be a very young child and listen to adults? Nothing they said ever made much sense but you knew that it made sense to them and that it had a higher meaning.

    That is why I love reading spam.

    It brings back memories.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Holy spam! – Cyranny's cove

  8. Perhaps some of these spams are created by text readers. I have a few e-books that were scanned in from old copies and whole stretches are unreadable/amusing. One copy of a biography of Robert E. Lee refers to him as Robert K. Lee EVERY bleeping TIME ! And it was written in English to begin with!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That first one is a mutilated version of a comment I left on your post about Tintagel. For a heart-stopping moment I wondered if I might have inadvertently typed ‘puerility’ instead of ‘childhood’, then common sense reminded me that my typing is bad, but not that bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You never fail to get a chuckle or two out of me. I was “soporsing” you have ties to the Twin Cities? Now this might be faulty logic, but Hennepin & Seventh could be anywhere, I suppose, but Hennepin in the TC is a street that has a bit of a reputation. And then there was the Spam reference. We’re proud of our Spam Museum, you know. And Spam is canned in Minnesota.Those Spam are domesticated in Southern Minnesota, but it is still possible to glimpse them in their natural habitat up north.

    Oh, you meant the OTHER smam.

    And Chance is related to your pups. Most of my underwear is well ventilated along with a number of socks….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a slight connection to the Twin Cities–I lived in Minneapolis for 40 years. Forty long, cold winters. Every winter I’m in Cornwall, I think about what I’m getting away with and when my friends and neighbors tell me it’s cold, even though in decency I have to swear that it is, I still gloat over my good luck. I no longer own anything you’d recognize as a winter jacket. What passes for one would barely get me through the fall. So 7th and Hennepin? Yup, you’ve got the right place in mind. The spam connection, though, bypassed me. What was I thinking?

      Sorry about your socks and underwear. And mine. The dogs swear they’ve improved them. (Actually, it’s only the younger dog these days. The older one’s lost interest. But she did once, memorably, disappear from view at a rather proper village resident’s house and reappear dragging a pair of her pantyhose.)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think our ten pound poodle is definitely contemplating using the phone. We kept an old fashioned one with a rotary dial just for the occasion because her paws might scratch the screen on the smart phone.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That was amusing.
    I check my Spam folder regularly, since I discovered that some comments, which were not spam landed there.
    Yep, I get a lot of gibberish. Things that don’t make sense. At least, if they tried to make their comments’s subject related to my post, I might buy it. Google Translate (or other translating services) are far from perfect, and sometimes all the foreign visitors of our blogs want to do is interact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Google translate is sometimes as incoherent as spam. I love it. Foreign visitors, though, are wonderful. And I’m impressed with people who read English as a second language well enough to go browsing the net in it–never mind leaving comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. What a brilliant and amusing post. It helped me begin my day with a better attitude than I had before reading it. It’s plausible that at least some of these peculiar phrasings are a consequence of linguistically-challenged automatic message-generating bots that are sometimes used to produce spam emails. Some also might be “written” by individuals who can’t speak English and use translation software. I suspect, however, that the writer of the
    “Sopor” message was conveying a deeply personal, if difficult to comprehend, idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, dear. So I’ve made fun of someone’s deepest, um, something or other? Aspirations, fears, fantasies, who-knows-whats? I feel terrible.

      Okay, I don’t feel terrible, but I should. I just know I should.

      Someone else also raised the idea that a lot of this stuff is written by bots. Part of one message was taken from a comment she left, with a few bizarre substitutions (never trust a thesaurus) tucked in so it wouldn’t be a repeat. That was the puerility message. So that explains how odd they are. What it doesn’t explain is why any of this should be worth doing.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Believe me, I do work on that. I’ve got a–well, it’s too informal to call it a proposal, but something along those lines out right now and am waiting to hear if the publisher thinks we’ve got something marketable. The battle to market three novels–two of which could potentially have hit a nerve but didn’t–has left me less than sunny spirited about marketability. Or at least about marketing.

          Having said that, I appreciate your encouragement. I don’t mean to brush that off. At all.


          • Include your numbers in the proposal! If they are not ready for it YET just keep working on those numbers. You could come up with a cure for cancer and frankly they wouldn’t care – it’s a numbers game. They want to know that they don’t have to actually do any work marketing you. Don’t take it personally – just keep building those numbers! That’s pretty much all most of them care about these days, so DO NOT take it personally and do not let any disappointments stunt your fantastic growth.

            PS I did say ‘most’ – there is always a few gems hidden amongst all the crapola who do look for heart, passion and quality but they are few and far between and are under pressure themselves to bring in the numbers, hence you have to do much of the numbers work yourself first to enhance your proposal.

            But do not do that givey-uppy crap. You’re better than that.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for that. I never do take it personally. I’ve been in the game too long. My theory is that it’s their job to reject me and I’m not about to do their job for them.

              I don’t know what publishing’s like in the U.K., but in the U.S., even the best editors have to justify themselves to the marketeers. They used to look for good stuff. Now they look for reasons to say no.


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