August 20, 2007

Jokes! 4

I let the most recent batch of Thai jokes stew a bit long. Without further adieu, let's jump right into the analysis of last time's jokes:

Q: ซุปอะไรมีสารอาหารครบทุกหมู่

What kind of soup has nutrients from all the food groups?
A: ซุปเปอร์มาเก็ต

The supermarket!
This joke works okay in English, although in Thai the loanword "soup" ซุป is spelled the same as the first syllable of the loanword "supermarket," so arguably it works better in Thai. This one's a simple pun to start off the batch.

Q: มีเงิน 20 บาท ให้น้องยี่สิบบาท จะเหลือเงินกี่บาท

You have 20 baht. You give your young sister twenty baht. How much do you have left?
A: เหลือ 10 บาท (น้องชื่อยี่)
10 baht (Yi is your younger sister's name.)
This joke requires explanation even after the punchline, which means it's not a very good joke. More of a trick question. The Thai word for twenty is ยี่สิบ /yii-sip/, but the punchline tells you that ยี่ /yii/ is the person's name, and so ให้น้องยี่สิบบาท is meant to be interpreted as "You give your younger sister Yii ten baht." Nevermind the fact that stress and intonation would probably differ if you were really talking about someone named Yii. In ยี่สิบ, ยี่ is unstressed and thus often is pronounced short. You would likely stress both ยี่ and สิบ if you meant a person named ยี่ (or reorder the sentence to avoid confusion). But now I'm taking all the fun out of the joke now, aren't I? :P

Q: ขี่ช้างจับอะไร
What do you ride an elephant to catch?
A: จับให้แน่นๆเดี๋ยวตก
Hold on tight! You could fall!
This joke makes no sense in English. The setup is a reference to a famous idiom, ขี่ช้างจับตั๊กแตน, "ride an elephant to catch grasshoppers," meaning to go to a lot of expense or effort for something that gets very little results, since trying to catch grasshoppers on an elephant would be a rather futile activity. So the setup is phrased so that the listener thinks the answer is ตั๊กแตน "grasshoppers." The punchline is, instead, a play on จับ. It means "catch," but also "grasp, hold on to." The alternate interpretation of the setup is, "When you ride an elephant, what do you hold on to?" Even with this interpretation, the punchline is still a play on words, because the phrasing จับอะไร makes you expect a noun in the answer, regardless. You've got to hold something. Instead of จับ_____ (noun), we get จับให้แน่นๆ "Hold on tight!" Notice, though, that even if the listener, knowing this is the setup for a joke, does answer with something like "ears," the joke still works. If I think I'm all smart and say "the ears" instead of "grasshoppers," the punchline reads like, "Well hold on (to the ears) tight! You could fall!" Interesting.

Q: ยาอะไรใช้รักษาคนไม่ได้
What kind of medicine can't cure people?
A: ยามาฮ่า

This is a simple play on ยา "medicine" vs. ยา as the first syllable of the brand name Yamaha. Remember that modifiers come after the noun in Thai, so ยา____ would be the typical structure for the name of a type of medicine. For example, ยาพารา is colloquial for "paracetamol" (shortened from พาราเซตามอล, the alternate chemical name for what is known as acetaminophen in North America, the most famous brand of which is Tylenol).

Q: มีเงิน 15 บาท ไปซื้อขนมราคา 4.50 บาท จะได้เงินทอนเท่าไหร่
You have 15 baht. You buy candy that costs 4.50 baht. How much change do you get?
50 สตางค์ (ก็ให้ไปห้าบาทไง)
50 satang (you gave them five baht!)
The setup sounds like a typical question you'd hear in an elementary school math class. The twist here is simple. If you have 15 baht, then you probably have two coins: a 10 baht and a 5 baht coin (the common coin denominations nowadays are 1, 2, 5 and 10. The 2 baht coin is a recent addition, though there have been 2 baht coins before in the past). So the trick is simply that if you have a 5 baht coin and you buy a 4.50 baht candy, you're only going to give them 5 baht (not 15), and thus 1/2 a baht (50 satang--that's Thai for cents) back. Simple, eh?

Now for a few more.

ลิฟท์จอดที่ชั้น 30 มีคนเข้าไปถึง 20 คน ลิฟท์ร้อง บี๊บ บี๊บ คนยังไม่ทันออกเลย สลิงก็ขาด เสียก่อน ปรากฏว่าไม่มีใครบาดเจ็บเลยสักคน ถามว่าเพราะอะไร?

Q: อะไรเอ่ย เวลาเรายืนมันห้อย เวลาเราเดินมันแกว่ง?

Q: ยายพายเรือไปทำบุญที่วัด ปรากฏว่าเรือรั่วและกำลังจะจม ยายต้องเสียสละทิ้งของ สองอย่างระหว่างปิ่นโตกับดอกไม้ ถามว่ายายจะเสียอะไรจึงจะไปถึงวัด แน่ๆ?

Q: พระใช้อะไรตีระฆัง?

Until next time, have fun...


  1. Thank you very much for this new batch of jokes and explanations. I thought you had forgotten about the last post with jokes and I was thinking of reminding you about it.

    I think the น้องยี่ joke might work even if you give the correct emphasis to its key words, because the listener has no clue about a younger sister called Yi, so he or she will probably dismiss the emphasis as a weird or wrong pronunciation and go for the "20 baht" meaning. I'll se how it goes.

  2. Glad you liked them. Sorry for letting them slide so long this time around.

    I think you're right--the น้องยี่ joke works fine as intended. But my objection is more that the punchline isn't funny because it requires you to explain the "trick" in the setup. I think a good joke shouldn't require post-punchline exposition. :)

  3. Yes, it's true, having to explain the punchline kills the joke. A couple of kids answered "สิบ บาท" straight away, apparently unaware that it was a joke.

  4. siamesekitty1/27/2008 2:19 PM

    aha! so HERE's where you guys hang out when not on the forum..

    nice blog naka :-)