There’s something sophisticated, something very worldly about being able to speak a second language. It can give the speaker an aura of class that just doesn’t happen otherwise. But you need to be careful, because if you don’t pull it off, you could wind up tripping over your own tongue — which just happens to be our topic of the day. The following are a few examples of bilingual Murphyisms that happened despite the best of intentions; all authenticated, all kinda ridiculous and all illustrating going from one language to another is an area full of pitfalls. • Sign at a Budapest zoo: “Please do not feed the animals. If you have any suitable food, give it to the guard on duty.” (Maybe he’s on starvation wages.) • Also in Budapest, but this time in a hotel: “All rooms not denounced by 12 o’clock will be paid for twicely.” (Which is how they do things in Hungary, I suppose.) • In a Hong Kong supermarket, the following sign was spotted: “For your convenience, we recommend courteous, efficient, self-service.” (Well, it couldn’t be any faster, could it?) • If you happen to be in Norway, you could see the following sign, prominently posted: “Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.” (This is frowned upon, even in the best of bars.) On the other hand, here’s one to stay away from. • In a Rhodes tailoring shop, the sign read “Order your summer suit. Because in big rush, we will execute customers in strict order.” (To avoid execution, maybe you should pay after you get delivery.) • In a Rome laundry, customers were told, “Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.” (This would lead one to expect traffic problems outside that laundry.) • And here’s a safe bet from Czechoslovakia: “Take one of our horse-driven city tours — we guarantee no miscarriages.” (Which is quite a relief!) • Known for good food and good beer, Vienna offers many choices at this restaurant. They list: “Fried milk, children sandwiches, roast cattle, and boiled sheep.” (They must have run out of schnitzel, but you gotta admit, the menu variety is unusual, to say the least.) • Another Vienna establishment posted a sign informing guests, “In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.” (Go ahead. Just try.) • The Swiss seem to have their own logic, since the mountain inn offered “Special today — no ice cream.” (Fine with me. Nothing but ice cream gets kinda boring after the third week or so.) • A Swedish shop offered “Fur coats made for ladies from their own skin.” (This way, you won’t have to worry about a good fit.) • Back in Rome, the doctor’s office announced “Specialist in women and other diseases.” (I’ll bet he’s not married.) • In Hong Kong, the sign promised: “Teeth extracted by the latest Methodists.” (But what about the other Methodists? Have they retired?) • And just when you thought it was time to go home, you could find the following in your Moscow hotel room: “If this is your first visit to The USSR, you are welcome to it”. (I wonder how many took it.) As we have seen, messing around in someone else’s language can lead to problems, and all of the forgoing examples demonstrate a couple of important points: Point No. 1. No matter where you go, it’s always possible to screw up. And point No. 2. I think I’m going to give up any ambitions to learn a second language. I have enough problems with just one. Mike Morton writes each Wednesday for the Kansan. He can be reached at m4r4f4m4@hotmail.com. Mike’s book, “On The Loose Collection, Volume One,” is on sale in Newton at the Kansan, 121 W. Sixth St.; Anderson’s Book and Office Supply, 627 N. Main St.; and Morse Studio, 715 N. Plum St.