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The Complete Guide to Translating Bullsh*t

The hilarious difference between what people say and what they actually think

'Indispensable! I can't recommend this book too highly.'

- People Magazine

'The comments and translations in this little book make it a real rib tickler – and that’s no bull****.'

- The Advocate

'It’s a very funny book.'

- The Today Show

Table of Contents

Introductory Bullsh*t

Translating Student Report Card Bullsh*t

Translating Job Reference Bullsh*t

Translating Used Car Bullsh*t

Translating Boy-Girl Bullsh*t

Translating Lonely Hearts Bullsh*t

Translating Real Estate Ad Bullsh*t

Translating Parent-Child Bullsh*t

Translating Political Bullsh*t

Translating Dinner Table Bullsh*t

Translating Doctors’ Bullsh*t

Translating Funeral Bullsh*t


Extracts from

The Complete Guide to Translating Bullsh*t

Introductory Bullsh*t

We are all brought up on Bullshit. We are trained in it from an early age. As soon as we can talk we learn that telling the truth upsets people: it upsets Dad when you repeat the jokes told to you at school; it upsets Mum when you tell her about the doctors-and-nurses game you play with the kids next door; it upsets your teacher any time you tell them anything truthful at all. The fact is that telling the truth is impolite; but telling lies is wrong too. To solve this dilemma, the human species invented a separate language called ‘Bullshit’. Bullshit consists of words used in such a way so as not to lie but to still encourage the listener to believe whatever fantasy they feel comfortable with.

The parent asks: ‘How is my child going in school?’ The teacher replies: ‘He’s persistent and conscientious.’ (Translation: He is thick but he does his homework)

The boss, asked for a reference, writes: ‘This person has demonstrated an ability to pick up new skills.’ (They can now write) ‘He takes his work very seriously.’ (He’s on valium)

The dinner hostess asks: ‘How did you like the meal?’ The guests reply: ‘Interesting.’ (Awful.     ‘Very unusual.’ (Awful in a new and different way.)

The art of true Bullshit is to have the listener unthinkingly continue to believe whatever they want to because, if they thought at all about what was said, they would immediately say, ‘Bullshit!’ (thus making the correct identification).

Bullshit is all around us. It abounds in the self-references people give themselves in lonely hearts advertisements. ‘Disillusioned female’ (My last boyfriend dumped me).

It flourishes too in public political statements. ‘I’ll have to get back to you on that one.’  (I don’t understand a word you’ve been saying.)

Bullshit reaches its highest artistic form in real estate advertisement. ‘Retirement special’ (A good home to die in)    Handyman’s delight (The roof is about to collapse).

Welcome to the wonderful world of Bullshit.

Finally, your mind and body can’t take it anymore. All those years of coping with the Bullshit have taken their toll. You or one of your family gets ill, perhaps you even need an operation, and now you will encounter the politest and the most revered Bullshitters of them all - the Doctor.

 Translating Doctors’ Bullshit

We have all heard of the hippocratic oath - it is something that doctor’s take. And, as they don’t prescribe it for their patients, it is probably very good for you.

But you don’t know what ‘hippocratic’ means do you? Does it mean ‘of or pertaining to large, slow mammals with big round nostrils and piggy little ears that like to hang out around waterholes in South Africa’?

You don’t know, do you?

In fact there are a lot of words which your doctor uses that you don’t understand, aren’t there? Words like biopsy (is it an operation to turn a man into a bisexual?), aneurisum (is it an earache that comes once a year?) thrombosis (is it some new ballroom dance from Latin America?), infarction (is this how hermaphrodites achieve sexual satisfaction?).

And what about the other words that doctors use, words like: Volvo, Ferrari, over-servicing, holiday home, yacht. Do these mean anything to you? Because they mean a lot to them.

Doctors nowdays are equipped with an arsenal of awesome technological weapons - X-Rays, E.E.G’s, amniocenteses - and a lot of other equipment that sounds like it emerged from a B-grade science fiction film of the 1950’s. They use this arsenal to spy on your insides. Like all spies, doctors speak in code words. These code words are designed to keep the average person feeling comfortably at ease while communicating vital factual matter to any other therapeutic spy in the room. This reassures the patient and his relatives by allowing them to believe whatever fantasy they feel comfortable with.

Consider this: major, minor, covert, secret, exploratory, routine, illicit, undercover and without-hospital-cover are all adjectives used to describe one word - ‘operation’.

But now you will be able to de-code this secret language of medical undercover operators by use of the following ciphers: (But before reading any further, stop and think - do you really, really, really want to know what your doctor is saying?)


What the doctor says          Translation

before the operation

I think we should get a                           You’ve got something so serious

second opinion.                                    I don’t want to take responsibility.


We might run a few tests.                        I’m stumped; I don’t know what the hell you’ve got.


an unusual complaint                             a profitable complaint


major surgery                                      I have checked that my malpractice    insurance is up to date.


a routine procedure                               a dangerous, tricky operation


exploratory surgery                                We may have to rip a few things out.


just put you under and fix you up           major thoraxic surgery


a radical operation                                We are going to chop out large sections of   you.


We may have to perform                         You look like the elephant man.

some corrective surgery.


You realize this procedure                        God, you’re vain.

is purely elective.


There is absolutely nothing                    There is plenty for us to worry about.

for you to worry about.


We’ll just fix up your                             You will need a catheter for the  next six months.



There are modern                                 You will need a colostomy bag

alternative ways.


I think I should leave you                        After this operation, you will be

some time to discuss this                       impotent for the rest of your life

with your wife.


I’ll get a nutrition                                 You’re really, really fat.

consultant to see you.


I’m only relieving here.                           I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.


I won’t be a moment.                             I won’t be a moment; I will be much, much longer.


I need to know a few details                     You have Aids.

about your past health.


There will be some slight                     You will look like Slyvester Stallone at the end of Rocky I.



This won’t hurt at all.                             This won’t hurt me at all; you however will be in agony.


This won’t hurt you a bit.                        This won’t hurt you a bit; it will hurt you a lot.


We’ll keep an eye on that.                        We’ll wait until it gets really bad.


We’re just waiting on the                         Stop pestering me; I don’t know what’s wrong.

results of the test.


The last time this operation                      This operation has only ever been done once before.

was performed...


I’d like to have a word to                         The test results have come back and it’s serious.

your spouse.


This might feel a little cold.                      If you were an Eskimo this would feel a little cold.


You might feel a slight prick.                     You might feel a slight prick but it’s almost

certain that you’ll feel a searing stab.


Please sign these forms.                           Please sign away the right to sue me if I botch the operation.

What the doctor says after the operation....

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