September 12, 2007

Jokes! 5

Q: ลิฟท์จอดที่ชั้น 30 มีคนเข้าไปถึง 20 คน ลิฟท์ร้อง บี๊บ บี๊บ คนยังไม่ทันออกเลย สลิงก็ขาดเสียก่อน ปรากฏว่าไม่มีใครบาดเจ็บเลยสักคน ถามว่าเพราะอะไร?
An elevator stops at the 30th floor and 20 people get on. The elevator (is past the weight limit) and cries out *beep* *beep* but the people can't get off in time--the cable breaks first. Not one person was hurt. Why?
A: เพราะตายหมด
Because they all died.
This is sort of an unjoke, but there is a tiny modicum of wordplay involved. It depends on how you interpret บาดเจ็บ "hurt, injured." In the logic of the joke, if they're all dead, they're not injured. :P

Q: อะไรเอ่ย เวลาเรายืนมันห้อย เวลาเราเดินมันแกว่ง?
What is it? When you stand it hangs; when you walk it swings?
A: แขน
Your arm.
This is a major theme among the type of joke known as อะไรเอ่ย--jokes with intentional innuendo but an innocuous punchline. The อะไรเอ่ย style joke is as well known in Thai as the "knock-knock joke" in English. And we have plenty of these อะไรเอ่ย-style jokes in English, usually with the structure "What ...", as in, "What's black and white and re(a)d all over?" (A newspaper, a sunburned penguin, etc.) We just don't have a category name for them like we do for knock-knock jokes. And English also has plenty with innuendo, too (but good taste restrains me from retelling them here).

Q: ยายพายเรือไปทำบุญที่วัด ปรากฏว่าเรือรั่วและกำลังจะจม ยายต้องเสียสละทิ้งของ สองอย่างระหว่างปิ่นโตกับดอกไม้ ถามว่ายายจะเสียอะไรจึงจะไปถึงวัด แน่ๆ?

An old woman rows a boat to the temple to make merit. The boat has a leak and is about to capsize. The old woman has to decide between two things to throw overboard: a lunchbox* or a flower. What will the old woman sacrifice to make sure she gets to the temple?
A: เสียชีวิตสิ ถึงวัดแน่นอน
Her life. She'll get to the temple for sure!
The translation here works okay, although to sacrifice your life has a different connotation in English. Thai on the other hand has the common euphemism for die เสียชีวิต, to lose your life. The Thai word for sacrifice is เสียสละ, hence the joke.


Q: พระใช้อะไรตีระฆัง?
What does a monk use to ring the temple bell?

A: ใช้เณร
A novice.
This is a play on ใช้, which means to use, but also to have someone do something for you (it doesn't carry the same inherently negative connotation as English, like, "you used me.") To say ผมใช้เขาไปซื้อของที่ตลาด
is to say, roughly, "I sent him to buy things (for me) at the market." So in this case, what does a monk use to ring the temple bell? A novice--one of the young boy monks at the monastery. It's all about delegation.

And for next time, more jokes:

Q: กาอะไรพ่นไฟได้

Q: มะนาวอะไรมาจากนอกโลก

Q: หมูอะไรหมุนคอได้

Q: กำอะไรเอ่ยกินกับข้าวเหนียว

Q: อะไรเอ่ย ดำบวม

A small hint.. these all involve a new kind of wordplay I haven't discussed before: คำผวน. Even with that hint, though, these are all insanely difficult, if you ask me.


*I don't know of any common translation for ปิ่นโต. If you're not familiar, it's a set of small stackable food containers for segregating the different parts of your lunch, with a frame that wraps around and holds them together tightly, with a handle on top. The term "Chinese lunchbox" comes to mind, and I found a page on Amazon using that term, though I don't get the idea from Google that that's very common. Some places use "bento box," but bento also refers to a Japanese homepacked single-serving meal (see the Wikipedia entry). While I suspect both Thai and Japanese borrowed the word from Chinese, they're note quite the same concept anymore. Does anyone know of a name other than Chinese lunchbox? Sorry for the tangent...

12 comments:

  1. Lexitron says " ปิ่นโต [N] food carrier; tiffin carrier. What's a "tiffin carrier"? Encarta says "South Asia snack container: a carrier consisting of several metal containers stacked one on top of another, used to carry prepared food". http://www.shobanarayan.com/articles/newspapers/articles_nyt_trainjourney.htm says: "The tiffin carrier is a simple, yet wonderful Indian invention. Several cylindrical stainless-steel containers are stacked and held together with a metal fastener that serves as a handle. Although the word tiffin means light food, the tiffin carrier can hold anything. The one I took daily to school had two containers -- the bottom one for a hearty rice dish and the top one, a vegetable."

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  2. Excellent, thanks! And now that you've told me, I see that it's in several dictionaries I own. For some reason I remembered "food carrier" but missed "tiffin carrier." Oh well.

    Judging by Google, tiffin carrier seems to be the least ambiguous of the possible terms for this handy contraption.

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  3. Now the question is, "Who was Tiffin?"

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  4. This is a short exerpt from the Wikipedia article:

    Tiffin is an Indian and British term for a light meal eaten during the day. The word became popular in British India, possibly related to tiffing, an English word defined in Francis Grose's 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue as meaning "Eating or drinking out of meal time, disputing or falling out; also lying with a wench, A tiff of punch, a small bowl of punch". According to the Oxford dictionary, the etymology of the word is dubious.

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  5. The connection to "tiffing" in the sense of eating out of mealtime sounds plausible, but if OED thinks that etymology is dubious... hmm. Can someone with access to OED.com post the full entry on "tiffin carrier"?

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  6. Rikker, have you ever seen this site?

    http://www.suphawut.com/translations/thai_to_english/proverbs/

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  7. I have seen that site, once upon a time. Thanks for reminding me that it exists, it's a great resource.

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  8. Not sure if this one was mentioned in previous comments.

    Q: ผู้ชายฝรั่งชอบสีอะไรมากที่สุด
    A: ชอบสีลม

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  9. I wonder if ปิ่นโต come from bento (弁当)?

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  10. I know this will probably never be read, but in case it is: did you ever post the solutions to the คำผวน riddles?

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  11. I was wondering the same thing. I need to know! :D

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