Friday, 31 July 2009

Lost in Translation

There are some who say that humour doesn't travel. Others claim that good comedy, like good wine, can travel well when handled properly.

The truth is that sometime language conspires against you. Linguistically, some jokes just cannot work in another language.

The genderisation of the definite article (to you, me and other English-speakers that means "the" is either male or female - or perhaps, in the case of Greek and German, neuter) is a case in point. Because of that, I can't use half of my best one-liners (most Greeks laugh at me for OTHER reasons).

Let me explain. The Greek for God is "O Theos" ("O" being the masculine definite article) which completely scuppers one of my favourites. I get nothing when I say it to my friends here (in Greek) - nothing except puzzled looks that say "Huh??".

So, I'm gonna try it out on you - here goes: When God made man, She was only joking.

(Geddit? Yes? No? Maybe not?)
Oh dear, seems that no-one understands me (yup, THAT old chestnut). Perhaps language isn't the problem after all?


  1. Ho hum, ahahahhah! Loved the post. I know what you mean-- some things just aren't translatable! I remember one of my friends was taking Arabic (she is American) and was translating American Idol, and the judges therein. She decided to use Randy's "Hey, you dog, blabla" in Arabic, and translated that-- and presented it to the class only to receive a loud gasp from the teacher and me. :) Dog in Arabic is a pretty bad insult. SO I kind of get what you mean!


    Be sure and pop by & leave a note! It would really make my day.


  2. Hrmpf (is the sound I make when I start laughing). I get it!