Many years ago - sometime in the early 1960’s - my father had given me a piece of paper containing a strange version of “The Three Bears.” It was the familiar fairy tale, written with Italian orthography (but containing, of course, not one speck of real Italian). The fun would come when you would hand the written story to someone. Nine times out of ten, he or she would try to read it but would give up in head-scratching frustration, completely baffled. But when the story was read aloud in the appropriate pseudo-Italian accent, everything became clear.
Apparently, this little piece of humor had had a wider circulation than I was aware of, because several websites mention it. Their versions differ from mine in a few minor respects, but the basic content is identical. There is even one education textbook that cites it as an example of “the need to use multiple comprehension strategies when reading a difficult text.”
Whatever. All I know is, I’ve been using it to crack Laura Belle up for the last twenty-plus years, and she still laughs at it. And now I find out that it’s kinda-sorta well known? It’s like when I found out that Mad magazine’s mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, was based on a caricature that had been around for over 100 years: strangely disappointing.
Anyway, for those of you who have never seen it, here it is:
Di Tri Berrese
Uans appona taim uas tri berrese; mamma berre, pappa berre, e beibi berre. Live inna contri nire foresta. Naise aus, no mugheggia. Uanna dei pappa, mamma, e beibi go bice, orie e furghetta locche di dorra.
Bai enne bai commese Goldilocchese. Sci garra nattingha tu du batte meiche troble. Sci puscia olle fudde daon di maute; no live cromme. Den sci gos appesterrese enne slipse in olle beddse.
Bai enne bai commese omme di tri berrese, olle sannebronne enne send inne scius. Dei garra no fudde; dei garra no beddse. En uara dei goine du tu Goldilocchese? Tro erre aute inne strit? Colle pulissemenn?
Deis uas Italien berrese, enne dei slippe onne florre.
Goldilocchese stei derre tri deise: itte aute ausenomme, en giusta bicose dei esch erre tu meiche di beddse, sci sei, “go tu elle,” enne runne omme craine tu erre mamma, tellerre uat sanimabicese di tri berrese uer.
Uatssiuse? Uara iu goine du? Go compleine sittiolle?
Can’t figure it out? Leave a comment or send an e-mail, and (after I’ve finished making fun of you), I’ll be happy to provide the translation.