Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page
From 7:00 to 7:30 PM, the vast majority of channels nationwide in China broadcast the exact same news program. The foreigner, not knowing this, assumes his TV is actually not switching channels, but the Chinese neighbor knows this is not the case, and he will once again be able to see a variety of programming come 7:30.
A foreigner had just moved in next door to this guy. One night, the foreigner knocked on the guy’s door to ask for help. He said, “My TV is broken. I can’t change the channel.” The guy glanced down at his watch and calmly said, “It’ll be better after 7:30.”
哥们, ge men(r)- a guy
隔壁, ge bi- next door
老外, lao wai- a foreigner
敲门, qiao men- to knock on a door
求助, qiu zhu- to ask for help
换台, huan tai- to change the channel
看一眼, kan yi yan- to glance, to sneak a look
表, biao- watch
镇定, zhen ding- calm
The only thing to note about this joke is that it’s almost certainly not originally a Chinese joke. I’m pretty sure I’ve encountered it on the web elsewhere before seeing it on the Chinese internet, and chances are that our protagonist, Little Qiang, was originally Little Johnny or something to that effect.
Little Qiang’s mother taught him the six steps of how to pee:
1. undo pants
2. pull down pants
3. pull foreskin back
5. pull foreskin forward
6. re-button pants
One day, the mother passed by the bathroom and heard Little Qiang saying, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.” She thought she’d done a good job of teaching. The next day, she passed by the bathroom, and heard Little Qiang rapidly shouting, “3-5, 3-5, 3-5…”
撒尿, sa niao- piss, pee
步骤, bu zhuo- step
包皮, bao pi- foreskin
The joke itself doesn’t need any real explanation, but there are some notes about translation. First, the Chinese version of the joke consistently refers to the older woman in the story as “the wife” (妻子) whereas in English, it feels awkward to write “the wife said to the daughter,” so we changed it to “mother” in most cases. The phrase “小女儿的想法更酷” is a little funny too. We can’t write “The daughter’s ideas were cooler.” It doesn’t make sense. This really means, “The daughter had an even better (cooler, more awesome) idea [than what the mother just suggested].”
While a husband was doing government work overseas, his wife and four-year old daughter stayed at home. One day, the daughter said to her mother, “I want a little brother.” Laughing, the mother responded, “Good idea, but don’t you think we should wait for your father to come home?” The daughter had an even cooler idea. “Why can’t we give him a surprise?”
驻海外, zhu hai wai- living overseas
公办 , gong ban- government work
更酷, geng ku- even cooler
惊喜, jing xi- a (pleasant) surprise
The student has studied English language dialogues in textbooks so well that even in a life-or-death situation, the immediate response to “How are you?” is “I’m fine, thank you!” This unfortunate conditioning leads to the student’s demise.
中国留学生在国外的高速公路出车祸了,连人带车翻下悬崖,交警赶到后向下喊话:how are you?留学生答:i’m fine,thank you。然后交警走了,留学生就死了.
A Chinese student studying abroad got into an accident on a highway. The car and those in it fell off a cliff. A traffic cop arrived as quickly as possible and yelled down “How are you?” The student replied “I’m fine, thank you.” Then the traffic cop left and the student died.
车祸, che huo- traffic accident
翻下, fan xia- fall over
悬崖, xuanya- a cliff, an overhang
交警, jiao jing- traffic police
Little Zhang often had his wallet stolen while riding the bus to work. Before he got on the bus one day, he put a thick pile of folded papers into an envelope, and after he got off the bus, he discovered it had been stolen. The next day, soon after he got on the bus, he felt something hard poking his side. He pulled it out and took a look; it was the envelope from yesterday. On it was written, “Please don’t play this kind of trick, it disrupts our normal operations. Thank you!”
被偷, bei tou- to be stolen
一沓纸折, yi ta zhi zhe- a pile of folded papers
硬物, ying wu- a hard object, something hard
掏出, tao chu- to pull out, to dig out
正常工作, zheng chang gong zuo- regular work, normal operations
This joke doesn’t seem funny in English at all, and after thinking about it for quite a while, I’m not sure there is any way to both properly translate it while keeping it funny. Translating it any way that allows the reader to quickly understand also cuts down the humor simply because nobody likes having a joke spelled out for them (which is also why our explanatory posts are rarely funny).
Getting back to the joke itself, all you have to keep in mind is that the 药 in 老鼠药, on its own is usually translated as “medicine”. The child, not knowing that 老鼠药 is actually rat poison, assumes that the mother is trying to cure the rat of some disease by giving it this “medicine”.