Monday, March 15, 2010

Suth'n humor

One of my all-time favorite jokes is bilingual, involving English and French.

"Why do the French like to eat just one egg for breakfast?"

Give up?

--Because "one egg" is "un oeuf" (enough).

Driving E and D home from school this afternoon, I was treated to my very first bilingual joke involving English and Suth'n. Interestingly, like the English/French joke, the English/Suth'n joke also involves numbers and food. D read out loud from the student newpaper:

"Why is it dangerous to do math in the jungle?"


--Because when you add four plus four, you get eight.
The kids said, "I don't get it." D had to read the punchline aloud a few more times before she and E burst out laughing. To their credit, they understand that around here, you're more likely to get et or eaten than to get ate, but as with un oeuf/enough, we allow precise pronunciations to slide for the pleasure of the bilingual riddle.

What I like best about the joke, in addition to what it presumes about readers' fluency in American regional dialects, is its easy-going insertion of Southerners into far-off exotic jungles in order to get them et. Surely sharks, alligators, and a myriad of urban predators resent arithmetic as much as their subtropical kin.

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