Heinrich Ollendorff meant well. The grammarian intended his phrasebooks to teach German, French, Danish, and Russian to a new generation of language students. But who would ever need to speak these sentences?
- Stop, the postilion has been struck by lightning!
- A man is drowning. Is there a life buoy, a rope, a grapnel at hand?
- Unhand me, sir, for my husband, who is an Australian, awaits without.
- After having lost all my money, I was beaten by bad-looking men; and, to my still greater ill luck, I hear that my good uncle, whom I love so much, has been struck with apoplexy.
Ironically, he’s remembered today in the adjective ollendorffian, which means “in the stilted language of foreign phrasebooks.”