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 Post subject: #41: Translinguial Jokes
PostPosted: September 15th, 2006 07:45:32 am 
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Some jokes are best told in translation.

Others aren't.

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2006 10:50:16 am 
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The Spanish verb for swim is nadar, right?

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2006 14:48:37 pm 
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Why yes, yes it is.

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2006 21:31:57 pm 
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So someone who does nothing is a nada-er?

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PostPosted: September 15th, 2006 21:34:13 pm 
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I found today's strip to be very funny. The joke is hilarious. The fact that it makes no sense in English (and I don't know any Spanish) made it, somehow, really funny. It would probably have been a lot less funny if it made sense.

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PostPosted: October 4th, 2012 12:57:20 pm 
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Ravenswood wrote:
I found today's strip to be very funny. The joke is hilarious. The fact that it makes no sense in English (and I don't know any Spanish) made it, somehow, really funny. It would probably have been a lot less funny if it made sense.


I tell this joke to basically everyone I meet. One of them translated it for me so I can now tell it in Romanian too ("Chu fashum peshte? Nimic!", rough phonetic approximation). Quite a few people have known sufficient Spanish to explain it to me - so I am aware that it is a genuine Spanish joke - but I usually pretend not to know why it's funny when I'm telling it.

The interesting thing about it is that while the original joke only works in Spanish, the bigger joke - telling it in another language and then explaining you don't know it in Spanish - is a joke that works in every language except Spanish.*

Similarly interesting theoretical comedy exercises: it would be nice to at some point forget the English form of the joke so I only know it in Romanian (a language I don't speak) and that it works in Spanish (another language I don't speak).

I would also like to teach the Romanian form of the joke to a monoglot Spaniard, in order that they can tell it to any Romanian monoglots they meet. Thus one party would know the literal meaning but not know the joke, and the other party would be able to work out the joke if only they knew the literal meaning.

I find these sort of exercises in style amusing.



*In a way this is rather like the Cowbirds in Love strip that is funnier if you're colourblind - the punchline has to be an inscrutable jumble of dots rather than the number three to be truly absurd.

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