French Language Blog

Blagues (Jokes) à la Française Part1 Posted by on Jan 26, 2011 in Culture, Vocabulary

To each his own bouc émissaire (“scapegoat”, literally, meaning “the butt of a joke”): For a long time,les Anglais (the English) picked on les Irlandais (the Irish), the Americans on their “Southerner” Rednecks, the Egyptians on their own version of “Southerners”, so to speak, the Sa’idis (From la Haute-Égypte, or Upper Egypt), les Canadiens ontheir Newfies (referring to the inhabitants of Newfoundland (“and Labrador”, since 2001), which was Jennie‘stravel destination last year, describing it as “l’un des plus beaux lieux (one of the most beautiful places) du monde“)—and les Français -in case you managed not to know it yet- on their still admirably placid neighbors, les Belges (Belgians)!

In France, like anywhere else, les stéréotypes are the “bread and butter” (ok, the butter may be missing here) of many blagues (jokes)

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But French jokes need not be éthnique !

Like for any other nation, they obviously have their fair share of the “international” genre, such as the all-too-unavoidable blagues sur les blondes (“blond jokes.”)

“Special Blonds: This interdiction also applies to other color shades of vehicles”—And that’s by far not the meanest of French “blond jokes”!

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Yet, one thing is remarkable about les blagues, in general, is that they are too often untranslatable from one language to another, since most of the puns, or the “double-entendre“, which usually constitute la chute (the punch line), is simply lost in translation!

Here are two examples of “lost in translation” jokes from French to English:

* Quel est l’animal le plus malheureux? (What is the saddest animal?) Le taureau… (The bull…) Car sa femme est vache! (Because his wife is “cow”—Not funny, unless you know that “vache” is actually slang for “mean”!)

Quel est l’animal le plus heureux? (What is the happiest animal?) Le hibou… (The male owl…) Car sa femme est chouette! (Because his wife is “a female owl”—Not funny either, unless you know that “chouette” also means “great” in French slang!)

* Un écureuil se gare devant un panneau de stationnement interdit (A squirrel parks in non-parking spot.) Un policier le prévient (A policeman warns him):Dites donc, vous voulez une amende? (Hey there, do you want a “fining ticket”—but the word “amende” sounds like “amande“, meaning an almond.) Oh, si ça ne vous fait rien, répond l’écureuil (Oh, if it’s all the same to you, replied the squirrel), je préférerais une noisette (I’d rather have a nut!)

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