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Why Prep?

Linguistic Humor

compiled by Leon


Being an applied linguist myself, I truly enjoy humor/jokes regarding linguistics.  If the authors are known, credit is given.  Sadly, I do not know all the authors, as most of these jokes/stories get passed around, and around, and credit is rarely given.  So, anyways, enjoy!

Oh, yeah, if you want to submit a joke or take credit for one, by all means: Contact me.



Ingenious Simultaneous Translator

    A famous writer who was visiting Japan was invited to have a lecture at a university to a large group of students. As most of them could not understand spoken English, he had to have an interpreter.

  During his lecture he told an amusing story which went on for rather a long time. at last he stopped to allow the interpreter to translate it into Japanese, and was very surprised when the man did this in a few seconds, after which all the students laughed loudly.

  After the lecture, the writer thanked the interpreter for his good work and then said to him, "Now please tell me how you translated that long story of mine into such a short Japanese one."

  "I didn't tell the story at all," the interpreter answered with a smile. "I just said, "The honorable lecturer has just told a funny story. You will all laugh, please."

From: http://edu.sina.com.cn/en/2002-10-15/6483.html



Translation Problems

There was an old story about the early days of computer translation. The CIA was interested in translation programs because of the tremendous volume of information they had. There simply weren't enough transcribers with linguistic training to transcribe them. One of the major computer companies came in with a program that was supposed to translate from English to Russian and Russian to English and solve the problem. To test it, the representative of the company said, "Just speak into the microphone. On the screen you will see what you have said." So, thinking for a moment, the CIA guy went over and said, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."

The machine cranked and groaned and there in Cyrillic letters across the screen was some Russian. Well, he didn't speak any Russian so he didn't know whether it translated it accurately. "Can you make it translate back into English and we'll see whether it got it right?" he asked. So the guy went over to the keyboard, pushed a couple of keys and translated it back into English. Only it said, "The vodka's O.K. but the meat is spoiled."

[Author Unknown]



Gender-based Language

An English teacher was explaining to his students the concept of gender association in the English language.

He stated how hurricanes at one time were given feminine names and how ships and planes were usually referred to as "she". One of the students raised their hand and asked - "What gender is a computer"?

The teacher wasn't certain which it was, so he divided the class into two groups, males in one, females in the other, and asked them to decide if a computer should be masculine or feminine. Both groups were asked to give four reasons for their recommendation.

The group of women concluded that computers should be referred to in the masculine gender because:

1. In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.

2. They have a lot of data but are still clueless.

3. They are supposed to help you solve your problems, but half the time they ARE the problem.

4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that, if you had waited a little longer, you could have had a better model.

          The men, on the other hand, decided that computers should definitely be referred to in the feminine gender because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic.

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.

3. Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.

4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

[Author Unknown]


Korean Humor

Joke for English/Korean Bilinguals:

Preface: I heard this joke from a friend of mine. Korea has one official language (Korean), but there are various regional accents/dialects. The Pusan accent is particularly interesting.  All Koreans are familial with the Pusan dialect, but if you are not Korean (and don't speak Korean), you'll need to know the following lexical items:

Watdae means: "It has come."

Muondae means: "What are you talking about?"

Beoseudae means: "It's the bus."

Joke: One day a Korean lady was standing next to a Foreigner at a bus stop in Pusan, Korea.  They were both waiting for the bus. Suddenly the Korean lady shouts, "Watdae!" and looks at the foreigner.  The foreigner, thinking she was speaking English to him, answers, "Monday!  "The Korean Lady hearing this, replies, "Beoseudae"  Of course the foreigner still thinks she is speaking English, so he says, "Happy Birthday!"

[Author Unknown]


Korean Humor #2

My favorite "Sa, Wu-jeong" Joke

Preface: A few years back there was a popular animated cartoon based upon the Chinese classic, "A Journey to the West".  The four main characters are:

Character Korean Name Chinese Name
Buddhist Monk ? Tang Seng
Monkey Son, O-gong Sun, Wu-kong
God-turned Pig Jo, Pal-gye Zhu, Ba-jie
Ogre Sa, Wu-jeong Sha, Wu-jing

In the cartoon (not the book), Sa, Wu-jeong is hard of hearing.  So, a plethora of Sa-Wu-jeong Jokes came into existence (in Korea, not China).  Please notice that in Korean and Chinese, family names are always mentioned first.

My favorite one is about English language acquisition:

Here it is:

One day Wu-jeong met a foreigner, and the foreigner asked: "How are you?"

Wu-jeong replied, "My name is Sa, Wu Jeong."

The foreigner repeated his question, a bit more slowly and clearly, "No. Howww aaaare youuuu?"

Wu-jeong thought that his pronunciation was bad so he enunciated slowly and clearly, "Myyy nammmme isss Saaa, Wuuu Jeong."

The foreigner tried one last time before giving up, "No. How... are... you?"

At that point, Wu-jeong began to think that he made another mistake.  He thought about it, and at last realized his error.  He replied, "Ah... My name is Wu Jeong Sa!"

[Author Unknown]


Metaphorical Humor

Date:  December 30, 2003 -- Metaphors for sale...

       Get your metaphors at eBay NOW!!!  before they're all gone!

I'm not kidding; I actually saw this ad on Yahoo!: 

Metaphors on eBay
Find metaphors items at low prices. With over 5 million items for ...




Not sure if I should be more worried about the $169 price tag, or that it tastes like butt.

Wacky Labels

Below, there is a list of label instructors on the packages of consumer goods.

This is included on this [my linguistic humor] page, because it is a perfect example of how even some native speakers & some non-native speakers lack pragmatic competence in the target language.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a Sears hairdryer:

Do not use while sleeping.

(Dang! That's the only time I have to work on my hair).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a bag of Fritos:

You could be a winner!
No purchase necessary.
Details inside.


(the shoplifter special)?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a bar of Dial soap:

Directions: Use like regular soap.

(and that would be how???....)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On some Swanson frozen dinners:

Serving suggestion: Defrost.

(but, it's "just" a suggestion).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Tesco's Tiramisu dessert (printed on bottom):

Do not turn upside down.

(well...duh, a bit late, huh)!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Marks & Spencer Bread Pudding:

Product will be hot after heating.

(...and you thought????...)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On packaging for a Rowenta iron:

Do not iron clothes on body.

(but wouldn't this save me more time)?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Boot's Children Cough Medicine:

Do not drive a car or operate machinery after taking this medication.

(We could do a lot to reduce the rate of construction accidents if we could just get those 5-year-olds with head-colds off those forklifts.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Nytol Sleep Aid:

Warning: May cause drowsiness.

(and...I'm taking this because???....)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On most brands of Christmas lights:

For indoor or outdoor use only.

(as opposed to...what)?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a Japanese food processor:

Not to be used for the other use.

(now, somebody out there, help me on this. I'm a bit curious.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On Sainsbury's peanuts:

Warning: contains nuts.

(talk about a news flash)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On an American Airlines packet of nuts:

Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.

(Step 3: maybe, uh...fly Delta?)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a child's superman costume:

Wearing of this garment does not enable you to fly.

(I don't blame the company. I blame the parents for this one.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

On a Swedish chainsaw:

Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands or genitals.

(Oh my! ...was there a lot of this happening somewhere?)

[Author Unknown]







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