Bilingual pun  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
A bilingual pun is a pun in which a word in one language is similar to a word in another language. Typically, use of bilingual puns results in in-jokes, since there is often a very small overlap between speakers of the two languages.

Occasionally, some puns are more actually malapropisms, since they don't rely on knowing any words in the other language, but how a foreign-speaker would pronounce them, such as:

José had just finished his English class, but to pass the teacher asked him one last question. Use the words "green," "pink," and "yellow" in the same sentence.
José thought for a minute and then replied, "The phone go green, green, green, green, (ring) I pink (pick) it up, and I say yellow (hello)"

Contents

Examples

Cebuano

A donut vendor shouts "Do not buy!"

(It is actually pronounced as Donut bai!" Where the word bai means friend.)

American: Hi, young lady!
Girl: Hayang? OK.
American: Wha' happened?
Girl: Aa, wa'y hapin-hapin!

Hayang (sounds like "hi young") in Cebuano means lie down face up. Wa'y hapin-hapin (sounds like "what happen-happen") mean no means of cover (figuratively, naked).<ref>Filipino - Cebuano Jokes 3</ref>

One of famous Tagalog and Cebuano bilingual puns:

Sa Tinagalog, ang langgam mokamang, sa Sinugbuanon, molupad.

Langgam in Tagalog means "ant" (nga mokamang, "which crawls"), where langgam in Cebuano means "bird" (molupad, "which flies").

Sa Tinagalog, ang baril mobuto, sa Sinugbuanon, sudlanan.

Baril in Tagalog means "firearm" (nga mobuto, "which explodes"), where baril in Cebuano means "barrel" (sudlanan, "a container").

Czech

Jak se řekne anglicky "Tvoje oči září"? - "Your eyes September."

(How do you say "your eyes are glowing" in English? "Your eyes September." - the Czech word září means both September and is glowing)

Czech to American: Odkud jste? (where are you from)
American: z Nevady (from Nevada)
Czech: Ale vadi. Odkud jste? (But it does matter. Where are you from?)
American: Nevady. (from Nevada)
Czech: Ale prosim te... (Oh, come on...)

(z) Nevady = from Nevada
Ne vadi = it doesn't matter

Danish

"I would like a meatroom with a towel."

(Meat sounds like meet, thus "meatroom" (for a person speaking poor English, that is) in this context a "conference room". Towel sounds like the Danish word for "blackboard". Taken from the movie Gamle mænd i nye biler)

Dutch

The Dutch prime minister is visiting the American president. At some point after dinner the president asks: "Do you have any hobbies?" The prime minister thinks for a moment and says, "Yes, I fok horses". "Pardon?" "Yes, paarden."

(Breeding in Dutch is fokken (singular fok), which sounds like fuck; horses in Dutch is paarden, which sounds like pardon.) (Not Kok)

Dutch-German misunderstanding:
'Wouldn't the German Embassy be better situated at Lange Voorhout?' 'Move to the long foreskin yourself!'

(Lange Voorhout, where the English and American embassies reside, is one of the most prestigious streets in The Hague. Unfortunately, the name sounds almost the same as the German phrase 'lange Vorhaut', which translates as 'long foreskin'. Even native speakers would be hard pressed to distinguish between these utterings.)

No moving plans exist for the German Embassy.

Estonian

What is 'Twelve months' in Estonian? - 'Cocks taste good!'

(Cocks taste good sounds similar to Kaksteist guud, which means Twelve months.)


Finnish

Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris of Iron Maiden were angling. Suddenly a fish caught Bruce's hook. When Bruce was pulling the fish into the boat he said: It is so heavy. It must be a shark. When the fish was in the boat Steve said: Oh, it is just an ordinary pike. Disappointed, Bruce answered: Ei siis hai.

(Ei siis hai sounds similar to Aces High but it means thus, no shark.)

When Bruce and Steve had returned from fishing, their neighbour noticed their boat and claimed that Bruce and Steve had taken his oar. Bruce and Steve answered: Airo on meidän.

(Airo on meidän sounds similar to Iron Maiden but it means Oar is ours.)

Mitä on englanniksi 'Yhdeksänkymmentä hiirtä myös?' - 'Ninety mice too!'

(What is 'Ninety mice too' in English? - 'Ninety mice too!' Ninety mice too sounds similar to Nainti maistuu, which means roughly I enjoy fucking.)

Mitä on englanniksi 'Kivat kymmenen riisilehmää?' 'Nice ten rice cows!'

(What is 'Nice ten rice cows' in English? - 'Nice ten rice cows!' Nice ten rice cows sounds similar to Naisten raiskaus which means roughly Raping of women.)

Viking Line has advertised Christmas cruises with the slogan Meri Christmas. In Finnish, meri means sea.

French

A young Canadian lad buys three cats and names them Un, Deux and Trois before heading back home across the river. His boat capsizes; he arrives home half-frozen but still alive, sadly crying «Maman! Maman! Un, Deux, Trois cats sank!»

(The punchline sounds like the first five numbers in French, un deux trois quatre cinq.)

Q - Why do French people only have one egg for breakfast?
A - Because one egg's 'un oeuf'. (one egg's enough)

Or this, from the motion picture Clue: the Movie:

Mrs. Peacock: Is there a "little girl's room" in the hall?
Yvette: Oui, oui, madame.
Mrs. Peacock: No, I just need to powder my nose.

(Yvette's "Oui, oui," which means "yes, yes," sounds like "wee-wee," an English-language euphemism for urinating.)

In a first-year French textbook used in the United States, a section dealing with French sounds showed the pronunciation of the sound oe (a ligature in French), pronounced like the "u" in "up," and appearing in the French words oeil, "eye," and pronounced almost the same as the English word "eye"; and fauteuil, "armchair," pronounced foh-tuh-ee. Then the textbook instructed the student to pronounce the words over and over: oeil, fauteuil, oeil, fauteuil, oeil, fauteuil, oeil, fauteuil, oeil, fauteuil.

Why can't French people count to four?

Because there's a tree in the way

In American classrooms there is a short poem commonly used as a means of demonstrating a few phonetic properties of French to beginning students, in a fashion similar to the example above. The reason for this is obvious immediately upon being read out loud.

Un petit d'un petit
S'étonne aux Halles.
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent.
Indolent qui ne sort cesse;
Indolent qui ne se mène.
Qu'importe un petit d'un petit
Tout Gai de Reguennes.

French Canadian:

What is the plural of 'un petit beurre'?

Answer: 'des touioux'.
Why?
Well, it is 'Un petit beurre des touioux'!
(sung to the tune of Happy birthday to you)

German

Q: According to Sigmund Freud, what comes between fear and sex?
A: Fünf.

(German numbers - vier, fünf, sechs = four, five, six.)

Before the Battle of Normandy, two German spies have infiltrated the Allied Headquarters. Before they can retire and radio to Berlin, they have to attend the officers's cocktail. One of the two spies goes to the barman and asks, in perfect English:
"Two martinis, please."
"Dry?"
"Nein, zwei!"

(In German, drei (three) is pronounced quite like dry.)

In addition, the German word for team (Mannschaft) opens itself up for various bits of humor centered on its sounding like the English words man shaft, implying the penis, especially when combined with other sports words (such as Fussballmannschaft). As well, one of the constructions for fahren, "to drive", is fahrt (fart), which also opens up more opportunities for jokes.

A Wayne and Shuster routine depicts a young Mozart appearing before an Emperor who offers him items from a plate of food and asks how many he would like:

A small indication of big trouble ahead: The tip of the scheissberg. (German Scheisse means shit and Berg means mountain)

Hebrew

"I can't understand why this chicken is still raw; I clearly set the oven to 'Off'". (The Hebrew word for chicken "עוף" is very close to the same sound as "Off".)

The French term cafe au lait sounds in Hebrew like "קפה עולה", meaning "coffee costs", so "how much cafe au lait?" is considered a known pun.

"Mi" translates to "Who?" "Hu" translates to "He." "He" translates to "She."

Hindi

Q:What did the lonely banana say?
A: I’m a kela.

Kela is Hindi for banana, while akela is Hindi for alone.

Q: What did the green peas say?
A: Nothing. They just mutter-ed.

Mutter (often spelled on restaurant menus as matar) is Hindi for peas.

Q: What did one milk say to the other milk?
A: Hey, Dudh!

"Dudh" is the Hindi word for milk.

Hungarian

Q: - Hogyan hívják angolul a pápát? (How'd you say Pope in English?)
A: - Bye-bye.

The Hungarian word pápa means pope in English, and pápá is a childish way of saying goodbye to someone.

Irish

Bhí beirt den IRA ag siúl síos Bóthar na bhFál i mBéal Feirste. Chonaic siad fear eile chucu. Dúirt an chéad fhear
"An gceapann tu go bhfuil an fear sin ina bhall den UVF?",
agus dúirt an dara fear
"Ní cheapaim."

A direct translation is

Two IRA members are walking down the Falls Road in Belfast. They see another man walking against them. The first of the men says
"Do you think he's a member of the UVF?",
to which the other replies,
"I don't know."

"Ní cheapaim" is the Irish for "I don't think so", but also sounds like "Knee-cap him". Knee capping is a punishment notoriously used by paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.

Japanese

As Japanese has both a large number of English loanwords and a lot of contact with American culture, English-Japanese bilingual puns are plentiful.

A man buys a Nissan, and wants to name it, but can't decide if he should give it a male or female name. He asks his Japanese friend, who says, "Female." The man asks why, so the friend responds, "Each Nissan, she go."

(The punchline sounds like the first five numbers in Japanese, ichi ni san shi go.)

The theme song to the anime series His and Her Circumstances contains the following pun;

-You may dream, masshiro na...
(You may dream, pure white...)

"You may" sounds like yume, the Japanese word for "dream".

A popular joke is to say to someone: "Ayu wa sakana", and if they look puzzled, then say, "Well, yes or no?" The phrase sounds like the Japanese sentence which states "An Ayu is a fish", as well as the English question "Are you a sakana". Depending on which they hear, and their answer, you can inform them that they are wrong- an Ayu definitely IS a fish, -or- YOU are definitely not a fish.

In one joke the kid asks if his dad if he wants fruit and the dad says papaya. (Whereas Papa = "dad" and Iya = "don't like".)

Puns on the word "Ai", which means "love" in Japanese, and is pronounced like the words I and eye, are quite common. The title of the manga/anime series Video Girl Ai is a bilingual pun. Ai means "love" in Japanese, which fits Ai's character. But in English, "AI" means artificial intelligence, which also befits Ai's character. The same pun also fits the title of Ken Akamatsu's manga A.I. Love You.

People use Japanese names for puns too, such as Saiko ("psycho").

Another Japanese pun is 「すばら C」 (subara C). This is a joke on the Japanese adjective 「すばらしい」(subarashii), which means "wonderful."

"Gakkou de sensei ga futari iru tokoro wa doko?"
"Kyoushitsu!"
-Where in a school are there two teachers?
-In a classroom!
Kyoushi in Japanese means teacher, and kyoushitsu is a classroom. Tsu sounds like English "two", so kyoushi two.

What color number knows karate?
ブルス リ (pronounced bu-ru-su ri, which is how the Japanese would pronounce Bruce Lee or Blue Three).

Kikongo

A language spoken in the lower Congo- formally Zaire (Bas-Zaire) and also in North of Angola-

To encourage students practice their French, most Schools have a token called "Le Symbol". The token is given to anyone caught speaking in a language other than French on school grounds. A typical pun is to hear students taunting the token carrier as they run alongside him, screaming "Kiadi mono seyi fua!", which in Kikongo means "What a sad thing, I am dying!". This sounds like the French "Qui a dit mon nom six fois", which means "Who has been repeating my name six times?" The token carrier then responds that the taunter must carry Le Symbol.

Q: Why? A: Because I heard you say something in Kikongo. Q: What did I say? A: The token carrier repeats: "Kiadi mono seyi fua!" Q: I didn't say that. I was only inquiring to know who was repeating my name six times! And even if that were the case, then you must keep the token because you have repeated the very thing you accuse me of saying.

Then all the others break into laughter and shout in Kikongo "Kiadi beni!", meaning "It is very sad." This sounds like the French phrase "Qui a dit Beni?", which means "Who said 'Beni'?"

Korean

Q: What did the Korean bus driver say to the egg?
A: 계란!

계란 (gyeran) which means "egg" in Korean sounds like "Get on".

Other jokes use cognates as puns, like:</br> Q: What is a vampire's favorite drink?</br> A: 코피 (Ko-pi, means "nosebleed", sounds like coffee)

Q: What's another way to say "brown rice" besides "현미쌀?" (hyun-mi ssal, brown rice)</br> A: Bobby Brown. (밥이 brown (bab-i brown), or "The rice is brown.")

Q: What did the fish say when the shark bit into its side and bone?</br> A: "Oh, my 가시!" ("Oh, my ga-shi," or "Oh, my bone;" is meant to be a cognate for "Oh, my gosh")

Q: There were two tissue boxes, one smaller than the other. What did the smaller box say to the bigger one?</br> A: "Oh, you are so 휴지(hyuji)!" ("휴지(hyuji)," which means "tissue" in Korean, sounds similar to the English word "huge")

A notable English-Korean pun comes in the form of a knock-knock joke: </br> Initiator: "Knock knock." </br> Responder: "Who's there?" </br> Initiator: "I'm a coach." </br> Responder: "I'm a coach who?" </br> The initiator then just smiles, waiting for the responder to get the joke - "coach who" sounds like "gochu", which literally means a chili pepper, but is used as slang for penis.

Q: Why did the smoker go to the racetrack?</br> A: 말보로 (mal-bo-ro "to see horses" -- sounds like Korean pronunciation of Marlboro)

Q: What sound does bread make when you throw it at a wall?</br> A: 빵! (bbang! - Korean word for bread)

Latin

Following General Sir Charles James Napier's 1843 conquest of Sindh in India, the satirical magazine Punch published a cartoon in which the despatch to his commanders was "Peccavi", meaning, in Latin "I have sinned" (I have Sindh). (The joke was the pun; but cartoon was about the sin: the slaughter of some 26,000 Indians for no particular purpose, and rather against orders.)

After the capture of Lucknow in 1857 Lord Clyde (or one of his officers) is supposed to have telegraphed home, "Nunc fortunatus sum" I am in luck now.

Māori

"Et tu, Brutus?"
"Why are you speaking Māori?"

(From the film Sione's Wedding. "E tu" is Māori for "Stand up".)

Marathi

A Marathi woman and her daughter are shopping in a grocery store. The girl asks her mother "Aai aapan chicken aani fish donihi wikat ghenaar aahe kaa?" (Mother are we going to buy both chicken and fish?) to which the mother replies "Fakta chicken." The store clerk, who's not a Marathi speaker, overhears this conversation and says "Ma'am, we don't allow that kind of language in this store."

(Fakta in Marathi means "only", but sounds like "fuck the" to an English speaker.)

Norwegian

"The plane took off with a great fart and disappeared in the horizon as a prick"

(Fart is how one would spell "speed". Prick is "dot".)

"What a mess you have made!"

(Mess is almost the word for "conference".)

"Only one family"

(Sounds like the Norwegian phrase "Aunli vant femmila", which means that a skier called Aunli won a particular ski race of fifty kilometres, or 31,07 miles.)

Russian

A man walks into a Russian airport and requests, in English:
"I want two tickets to Dublin."
The ticket clerk asks:
"Куда, блин?"
To which the customer replies:
"To Dublin!"

("Куда, блин" ("Kuda, blin") means roughly "Where, dammit?" (literally "Where, pancake?"), and "to Dublin" sounds like "Туда, блин", ("Tuda, blin") or, roughly, "There, dammit!")

One man says to another:
"Закрой окно, дует." (meaning "Close the window, it's blowing.")
The other man replies:
"Do it yourself."

("Дует" ("duyet"), meaning "[it is] blowing," sounds like the English phrase "do it.")

Spanish

Un zorro y un jaguar se encuentran en New York. El jaguar dice: "How are you?" El zorro contesta: "No, I'm sorry".

Translation: A jaguar and a fox meet in New York. The jaguar asks: "How are you?" which sounds like "Jaguar you?" in Spanish. The fox answers "No, I'm sorry" (sorry sound like zorro, the Spanish word for fox). This joke can be understood by many Spanish speakers because it uses two English phrases commonly used in an introductory English course.

A Spaniard who knows very little English walks into a bus station and requests:
"One ticket to Kentucky."
The clerk asks:
"On the bus?"
And the Spaniard replies:
"Onde voy a ir, a Kentucky."

("On the bus" sounds like vulgar Spanish "Onde vas", contraction of "A dónde vas" as pronounced by most Spaniards, which means "where are you going?" The guy replies "Onde voy a ir, a Kentucky" - roughly, "where do you think, to Kentucky")

A Spanish speaker who knows no English walks into a pharmacy and requests, in Spanish:
"¿Hay ampolletas?"
To which the clerk replies:
"Hello, Mr. Polletas."

("¿Hay ampolletas?", Spanish for "Are there ampoules?", sounds like English "I am Polletas")

A Spanish speaker who knows no English goes into a clothes store in an English-speaking country and wants a garment but doesn't know how to ask for it. After the manager shows the Spanish speaker every article of clothing in the store, she shows the Spanish speaker a pair of socks, and the Spanish speaker says:
"¡Eso sí que es!" ("That's what it is!") The manager responds:
"If you could spell it all along, why didn't you say so?"

("¡Eso sí que es!" sounds like the English letter sequence "S-O-C-K-S.")

The road El Camino Real (literally, "the royal road") in California passes by Stanford University, which has a notable computer science department. Since "real" is a type of number in some programming languages, a programmer began calling it "El Camino Bignum", and the name has stuck somewhat among computer programmers in the area.

Q: What do you call four mariachis standing in a pool of quicksand?
A: Cuatro cinco. ("Cuatro" and "cinco" mean "four" and "five" respectively in Spanish, and "cinco" is pronounced like "sink-o".)
Profesor: ¿Cómo se deletrea 'nariz' en inglés? (How do you spell 'nose' in English?)
Estudiante: No sé. ("No sé" means "I don't know", but it spells out "nose".)
Profesor: ¿Cómo se dice "yo veo dos" en inglés? (How do you say "I see two" in English?)
Estudiante: Ay sí tú [pronounced like I see two], como si supieras inglés. (Yeah right, as if you spoke English.)
Q: Cuantas anclas tiene un barco? (How many anchors does a ship have?)
A: Once(spanish for 11). El capitán dice "Eleven anclas!" (The captain says "Raise the anchors")
Q: What is the coldest color?
A: Yellow. ("Yellow" sounds like "hielo", Spanish for "ice").

Swedish

"My name is Jönsson, with two pricks over the first 'o'".

(Prick means "dot"'.)

"The plane took off with a great fart and disappeared like a prick in the sky"

(Fart means "speed".Prick is "dot".)

"It's not the fart that kills you, it's the smell."

(Smell sounds like the Swedish word smäll, meaning (in this context) crash)

"Make love, not vår" and "This means VÅR!"

(vår sounds like "war" pronounced in a Swedish accent, and is the Swedish word for the season of spring. These puns were used by IKEA in advertisements, and is the same in Norwegian.)

"Can you shoot the window? There is a drag in here"

(skjuta means both "shoot" and "push (close the...)", and drag means "draft".)

An English couple are travelling by train in Skåne (southern Sweden). At one stop, two local farm boys board the train and take their seats in the same compartment. One is tall, blond, and striking, while the other one is short and plain. The Englishwoman admires the tall youth for a moment, then remarks to her husband:
"What a handsome face!"
The short boy blushes and answers:
"Näeij, frun, det var jag."

("What a handsome face" sounds like the Swedish phrase "Var det han som fes?", i.e. "Was it he who farted?"—especially if pronounced with the Scanian dialect of Swedish. The boy's answer means: "No, ma'am, it was I.")

A popular Swedish-German bilingual pun is "Es ist Unser in der Luft. Bald kommen die Löwen und die Bären." ("It is 'ours' in the air. Soon the lions and the bears will come.") The joke is that Swedish "vår" could mean either "ours" or "spring", and Löwen and Bären resemble "löv" (leaves) and "bär" (berries).

The Swedish word for "exhausted," "finished," or "the end" is "slut," and many Swedish films end with this word. This is naturally a source of mirth for English-speaking film buffs. On the "slut"-theme the word "Slutstation" should be mentioned. It refers to "the end of the line"..

Tagalog

Q: Why didn't the man walk across the puddle of water?
A: Because it was too big. ("Tubig" is "water" in Tagalog.)
Someone was drowning in a swimming pool, so he screamed for help. The lifeguard on-duty quickly grabbed a rope and threw it to him. Unfortunately, the rope didn't help because it wasn't too long. ("Tulong" is "help" in Tagalog.)
At 1:00 PM, I took some ice cream out of the freezer, but then I forgot about it. That was one hour ago, and I just realized that it's 2 now. ("Tunaw" is "melted" in Tagalog.)
Q: Do you know any languages that are spoken in India?
A: Hindi ("Hindi" is Tagalog for "No". Hindi is also a language in India.)
Q: Why can't you eat salt on Sunday?
A: Because it would be a sin. ("Asin" is "salt" in Tagalog.)


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Bilingual pun" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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