klortho (klortho) wrote,
klortho
klortho

I'm back; and cold jokes

I took a hiatus from writing on the blog, because I wasn't doing it very regularly anyway, and I was tired of feeling guilty about that, and also I just finished a very busy semester at school. In addition to the three main courses (intensive reading, listening, and speaking) I took three elective classes (newspaper reading, business speaking, and "China Survey" (中国概况, I'm not sure how to translate it, anyway, I call it the propaganda class, more about it later)). So I was busy. I think I got straight A's; I might have gotten a B in "intensive reading", and I haven't gotten my score back for the propaganda class. I'm trying for the merit scholarship for next semester -- I've never won any scholarship money in my life, so it would be a treat.

So now it's the summer vacation, and I have a long list of things I'd like to get done, including getting a website back up and running. I'm hoping to migrate this to a Wordpress blog. There are lots of reasons, not least of which, Livejournal is blocked in China at the moment, and I have lots of friends here who can't read this. Damn the GFW, sincerely!

Meanwhile I'll try to post more arcane and trivial things, more often.

Today's lesson is on "cold jokes". This is Chinglish -- a Mandarin idiom (冷笑话 lěng xiàohua) that has gotten translated into English, where it doesn't make any sense (yet, anyway). I like the idiom, so I'd like to see it spread. It's another one of those things that I don't think we have any good way to express in English. What it means, in short, is a joke that isn't funny. Actually, there's more to it than that. It's not only not funny, but it's a joke that makes you feel cold.... whatever that means. Okay, okay, I'll admit, I'm still not exactly sure what the idiom means, but I hope to get the hang of it eventually.

I've run across this a few times now, for example, when I'm teaching English corner. Chinese people will say, in English, "cold joke", and then I have to explain to them that that's not English. When I first heard it, I didn't know what it meant, and then they explained it by saying that it's a joke that makes you feel cold, and they would wrap their arms around their bodies and shiver, as if that helped the explanation (it didn't, I already knew the English word "cold").

This page has some fine examples. Here are the first few with some translations/explanations:

有一只公鹿,它走着走着,越走越快,最后它变成了高速公路(鹿)~!!!!

There was a stag (a male dear, 公鹿 gōnglù) who was going along. He went faster and faster, finally, he turned into a highway! [This is a pun, because the word for highway is 高速公路 gāosù gōnglù, which means "high-speed road", and the word for "road" here, 公路 gōnglù, is homophonous with the word for male deer.]

有根火柴棒,走着走着突然觉得头很痒,就去挠,用力过猛着了火......
去医院急救,出来后,它变成了一根棉签...

There was a match who was walking along, and suddenly felt his head itched. He scratched it really hard and caught on fire .... he went to the emergency room, when he came out, he had become a cotton swab ...

有一只企鹅很无聊,就拔自己的毛打发时间,后来终于拔掉了最后一根毛。这个时候它忽然说:啊呀,好冷啊~

There was a penguin who was feeling very bored, and was pulling out his feathers. Finally, he pulled out his very last feather, when he suddenly said, "Aiya, it's cold!" [I guess this joke classifies as cold on many levels!]

有两个香蕉一前一后走在大街上,前面那个突然说:好热,偶要把外套脱掉,然后后面的那个就滑倒了.

There were two bananas walking down the road, one in front and one in back. Suddenly the one in front said, "Man, it's hot", and threw off his coat, then the one in back slipped and fell.

Feeling cold, are we?
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