Un petit d'un petitNotice anything odd about it? If not, try reading it aloud a few times. Still nothing? This might help.
S'étonne aux Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
This is a writing technique called homophonic translation, in which words in one language approximate the sounds of words in another. Here, the author, Luis d'Antin van Rooten, claims that the poems are a lost French manuscript, and writes copious notes attempting to explain the bizarre and archaic vocabulary and syntax. But the poems always make at least some effort at coherency; the translation of the first two lines is roughly "A child of a child was surprised at Les Halles." The story of Ladle Rat Rotten Hut uses a similar technique, but in English only, replacing every word or phrase with a near-homophone.
Bilingual puns are of course a glorious tradition even when less extreme. My mother once saw a cheese shop called C'est Cheese ("it is cheese" in Franglais.) My high school Latin teacher told me he thought the greatest pun of all time was from a cartoon about Sir Charles James Napier's conquest of the province of Sindh in India: his hypothetical message to his commanding officer was simply Peccavi - Latin for "I have sinned." And of course, my favorite joke about the Olympics: A spectator sees an athlete training with a long pole, and says "Are you a pole vaulter?" The athlete responds, shocked, "No, I'm German, but how did you know my name?"
So, in lieu of trivia today, I have a riddle based on a terrible French-English pun. Why do the French never have two eggs at breakfast?