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    • Join Date: Oct 2010
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    #1

    joke I donīt understand

    From a book I am translating: „Haddaya know when an Italian wedding is over? They flush the punch bowl!“
    Why is that funny? What exactly does it mean? To which "specifically italian" quality does it allude?
    I found almost the same joke for a polish wedding, too. There it says: How to ruin a polish wedding? Flush the punch bowl.
    Nobody could help me so far, I already posted in another forum, so I really hope someone can help me now.
    Thanks!


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    #2

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Thank you. So it does not refer to any supposedly "typical" italian/polish defect? Or does it imply, I donīt know, that they usually drink a lot, that they donīt have enough dishes (= are poor), that they are not very civilized?

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Quote Originally Posted by Jule_80 View Post
    Thank you. So it does not refer to any supposedly "typical" italian/polish defect? Or does it imply, I donīt know, that they usually drink a lot, that they donīt have enough dishes (= are poor), that they are not very civilized?
    It's probably meant to imply all of those things. It's a racist "joke".


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    #4

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Thank you. Itīs a book of an american author I have to translate, I sometimes get the impression that some more or less openly racist thinking lingers between the lines, now I have to decide what to do with it...

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    #5

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Quote Originally Posted by Jule_80 View Post
    Thank you. Itīs a book of an american author I have to translate, I sometimes get the impression that some more or less openly racist thinking lingers between the lines, now I have to decide what to do with it...
    I am interested to know what you will do. One option would be to leave it as Italians, but German readers might not understand that Italian immigrants were widely considered to be stupid and uncivilized.

    The British comedy series Faulty Towers had a character from Barcelona who was a bumbling, incompetent waiter with a poor grasp of English. When they dubbed the show for Spain, they said he was Italian. In France and in the Catalan region, he was Mexican.

    What nationalities do Germans stereotype as stupid and uncivilized?

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    #6

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Quote Originally Posted by Jule_80 View Post
    Thank you. Itīs a book of an american author I have to translate, I sometimes get the impression that some more or less openly racist thinking lingers between the lines, now I have to decide what to do with it...
    Have you considered advising your boss that you think it's unworthy of translation, and could you have a different book to work on?

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    #7

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Have you considered advising your boss that you think it's unworthy of translation, and could you have a different book to work on?
    What makes you think it is unworthy of translation? Just because a book has a racist character, it doesn't mean the book itself is racist. Even if it is a racist book, it may be useful to study racist attitudes from other countries.

    What is the book, by the way, Jule?


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    #8

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Thank you all for your answers. Unfortunately, I cannot really chose which books I get to translate ... it is my work, and I have to pay my rent. The book I am talking about is not openly racist, but sometimes there are jokes (the two I listed here in this forum) and remarks leading in that direction (against other nationalities and women). I am not sure however, weather this represents the authorīs opinion, or if he just wants to portray an average small-town-man in America without much education. Unfortunately, I think there are many people thinking just like that not only in America, but all over the world. In my translation, I therefore sometimes try to attenuate a bit, but I cannot change the whole character of the main protagonist of the book (who says all those things).

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    #9

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    I've been living in Italy for almost thirty years and I can find no cultural reference in my mind that would help to explain this joke. Italian weddings are generally very long-winded affairs and perhaps in many of them a lot of drinking goes on. The idea behind the joke could be that by the end of an Italian wedding everybody is so drunk that they can't tell the difference between a punchbowl and a toilet. It's not really very funny, but it makes some sense.

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    #10

    Re: joke I donīt understand

    Quote Originally Posted by apbl View Post
    Italian weddings are generally very long-winded affairs and perhaps in many in most of them a lot of drinking goes on.
    Same here.

    It doesn't explain much, but I thought what we use in the restroom is called a toilet bowl.

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