Posts Tagged ‘humour’


August 12, 2017

meFirst I found it hard to define what stylistic device was used to create a humorous effect in the jokes that follow. It looked like the closest was onomatopoeia – making words based on sound imitation. However, the term onomatopoeia is mostly applied when it goes about animal noises such as “oink”, “meow”, “roar,” or sounds produced by inanimate objects (a clock – “tick-tock,” a car horn – “beep-beep,” an engine – “vroom,” etc.) In our case, the comic effect is achieved when a reader of the jokes is simultaneously listening to the texts as they are being read, or at least, is reproducing in his sound memory the aural form of word combinations which stand behind the geographical names. Thus, the humor is based on the cooperation of orthography and phonetics, which can be termed as ortho-phonics. I’m sort of proud (:-)) having invented a new linguistic term. Another “innovation” is the verb “to geography” (pronounced “ji-‘o-gre-fai). It’s a nonce word invented only for this particular occasion, and it means to ‘cram the text with geographical names.’ Its logical derivative is “to un-geography.” What the nonce terms are about, the reader may see from the following:


Waitress: Hawaii mister? You must be Hungary?
Gent: Yes, Siam. And I can’t Rumania long either. Venice lunch ready?
Waitress: I’ll Russia table. What’ll you Havre? Aix?
Gent: Whatever’s ready. But can’t Jamaica cook step on the Gaza bit?
Waitress: Odessa laugh! But Alaska.
Gent: Don’t do me favors. Just put a Cuba sugar in my Java.
Waitress: Don’t you be Sicily, big boy. Sweden it yourself. I’m only here to
Gent: Denmark my check and call the Bosphorus. I hope he’ll Kenya! I don’t
Bolivia know who I am!
Waitress: Canada noise! i don’t Carribean. You sure Ararat!
Gent: Samoa your wisecracks? What’s got India? D’you think this arguing Alps
business? Why be so Chile? Be Nice!
Waitress: Attu! Don’t Kyiv me that Boulogne! Spain in the neck!
Pay your Czech. Abyssinia!

Gent (to himself): I’ll come back with my France.



Waitress: How are you, mister? You must be hungry
Gent: Yes, I am. And I can’t remain long either. When is lunch ready?
Waitress: I’ll rush the table. What’ll you have? Eggs?
Gent: Whatever’s ready. But can’t you make the cook step on the gas a bit?
Waitress: Oh, this is a laugh! But I’ll ask her!
Gent: Don’t do me favors. Just put a cube of sugar in my java.
Waitress: Don’t you be so silly, big boy. Sweeten it yourself. I’m only here to
serve you.
Gent: Then mark my check and call the boss for us. I hope he’ll cane you! I don’t
believe you know who I am!
Waitress: Kind of nice! i don’t care a bean. You sure are a rat!
Gent: Some of you are wisecracks? What’s got in you? D’you think this arguing helps 
business? Why be so chilly? Be nice!
Waitress: Attu! Don’t give me that bull on! It’s pain in the neck!
Pay your check, I’ll be seeing you

Gent (to himself): I’ll come back with my friends.



Oh, what did
boys, what did Tenna-see? (Tennessee)
Oh, what did Tenna-see, boys, what did Tenna-see?
Oh, what did Tenna-see, boys, what did Tenna-see?
I ask you men, as a personal friend,
What did Tenna-see?

She saw what Arkin-saw, boys, she saw what Arkin-saw. (Arkansas)
She saw what Arkin-saw, boys, she saw what Arkin-saw
She saw what Arkin-saw, boys, she saw what Arkin-saw
I’ll tell you then, as a personal friend,
She saw what Arkin-saw.
Where has Ora-gone, boys? (Oregon)
She’s taking Okla-home, boys. (Oklahoma)
How did Wiscon-sin, boys? (Wisconsin)
She stole a New-brass-key, boys. (Nebraska)
What did Della-wear, boys? (Delaware)
She wore a New Jersey, boys. (New Jersey)
What did Io-weigh, boys? (Iowa)
She weighed a Washing-ton, boys. (Washington)
Where did Ida-hoe, boys? (Idaho)
She hoed in Merry-land, boys. (Maryland)
What did Missy-sip, boys? (Mississippi)
She sipped her Mini-soda, boys. (Minnesota)
What did Connie-cut, boys? (Connecticut)
She cut her shaggy Mane, boys. (Maine)
What did Ohi-owe, boys? (Ohio)
She owed her Taxes, boys, (Texas)
How did Flora-die, boys? (Florida)
She died of Misery, boys. (Missouri)



June 28, 2016

Politics aside, I was amazed at how England’s game against Iceland at Euro-2016 and the results of the Brexit referendum were humorously brought together in the British social media. Just a few ribbing quotes from Twitter:

  • I wasn’t expecting a sequel so soon! (after the game against Iceland was lost);
  • England players obviously all voted to leave;
  • I’m starting a petition for a rematch! That was just a trial run;
  • England is the only country to leave Europe twice in one week;
  • Just only fancy! To be knocked out by a country that has more volcanoes than players!
  • The game has 52-48 written all over it;
  • Postal goals are still to be included!
  • We won’t go out of the tournament until we invoke Article 50…
  • England team now feel they were misled about consequences of letting goals in, they didn’t think the other team would actively win;
  • Standard&Poor’s just downgraded England to Two Lions.

2016-06-28How do I tell them?However, my first prize definitely goes to a picture of two cats with their EU pet passports. The photo was uploaded last Friday morning. The caption ran: “HOW DO I TELL THEM?”


January 20, 2016

DSC05495A prominent Ukrainian writer and politician Volodymyr Vynnychenko once said that the Ukrainian history can’t be studied without sedatives. Fortunately, it may be done differently today, after almost one hundred years. This morning I collected from the shop the book “A History of Ukraine by Old Svyryd” which we ordered earlier. The book is the first part of what will be followed, hopefully, by more parts – to cover the whole history of Ukraine in a comprehensive way.   “A History” was written by a Ukrainian blogger known on Facebook as “Did Svyryd” (Old Svyryd), aka “Svyryd Opanasovych”, whose approach is both original and traditional. The originality lies in the humor of the author’s presentation. Actually, the whole of the first volume is a witty and facetious commentary about the events of the pre-historic and early historic past on the territory of what is called today Ukraine. This point of observation is, as I have said, original, because until now history has been treated only as a serious branch of knowledge researched by very serious, bald-headed and, sometimes, long-bearded scholars who were fully aware of the ideological consequences their research entailed. However, the humorous treatment of history is a deep-rooted Ukrainian tradition if we remember Ivan Kotlyarevsky’s DSC0549719th-century burlesque rehash of Vergil’s Aeneid that, eventually, turned into a remarkable work of Ukrainian literature.

Here are a few examples of Old Svyryd’s comments on the Trypillian culture (ca 5500 BC – 2750 BC).

Are the Trypillians our ancestors? Yes and no. “No”— because, genetically, modern Ukrainians are not linked with the Tyipillians. “Yes” – because the Ukrainians and the Trypillians are mentally kindred. An ancient Trypillian loved it when he had his livestock in the pen, pigs in the sty, a cherry garden round his house and a field of rye somewhat afar. A typical mentality of a wealthier Ukrainian peasant, DSC05500remarks Old Svyryd (“високорозвинена куркульська цивілізація”). Meanwhile, archeologists are angry with the Trypillians because those didn’t build any pyramids, and burnt not only their dead but also (periodically, every 60-80 years!) their houses, moving to other places. They knew only how to make pots, but even better they knew how to crush them. What remains for the archeologists now is to sit on the excavated heaps of the burnt hearths and count countless shards of pottery which they, actually,are doing. In woodsy regions the Trypillans used to build their houses of logs and in the steppe zone – of sun-dried bricks, which means that they built the first eco-homes with low carbon footprint. A Trypillian house was also a dwelling for extended families. Imagine what kind of hell it was, says Old Svyryd, when seven or ten housewives were cooking dinner in the same kitchen and several dozens of children were DSC05499playing in the same backyard. The genius of Nechuy-Levyts’kyi (a Ukrainian author who wrote on matters of everyday life, especially in his book “The Kaidash Family”) would not be enough to depict the hullaballoo there. Also, moving from grain-harvesting to pottery, to the domestication of wild animals and invention of the wheel, the Trypillians naturally came to brewery. The thing is that if you gather in the crops, then put the horse to the cart and take the harvested grain to the wind-mill, you will naturally need to make the discomfort of the hard work and the hot climate more endurable, and you will, in the absence of a better alternative, pull up at a tavern, but what is a tavern without beer? With the invention of beer the Trypillian culture transforms into a civilization because every civilized country has beer. Unfortunately, the neighboring proletarian nomads cultivated class hatred against the affluent Trypillians, and in the long run overpowered them. From the remote past the Trypillians send a message to the Ukrainians, says Old Svyryd: friends, not to shed bitter tears strengthen your army! Hopefully, he concludes, the advice will be heeded.

The thing of no little significance is that we have Old Svyryd’s autographs for our family and, of course, a cup with his motto in live and brisk conversational Ukrainian.


May 27, 2015

I like playing chessChess pieces named “a knight” and “a bishop” in English have respective Ukrainian names “a horse” and “an elephant” in Ukrainian. With this knowledge, it is easy to understand a Ukrainian joke about a zoologist who noticed on the chessboard nothing but horses and elephants. Looking for the best way to translate the joke into English I thought about substituting a zoologist by another specialist with the simultaneous replacement of the chess pieces: an ornithologist – rooks, a historian – knights, a theologian – bishops, a royalist – the King and the Queen, a lender – pawns.

Then I digressed and thought of a potential player who would be able to keep a watchful eye on ALL the chess pieces at the same time. His profile might be: a graduate of a history school, being also a royal family fan. His recreational activity can be observation of birds. On weekdays he would work as lender at a company, and on Sundays – go to a neighboring Anglican church. With all that background he will notice all the chess pieces on the board (see the paragraph above). However, there’s one more prerequisite: to be a player he must also know how to move the pieces 🙂 For this, please,  read  the Russian classics — The Twelve Chairs by Ilya Ilf and Yevgeniy Petrov (Part 3, Chapter 34: The Interplanetary Chess Tournament) to be found at 


November 30, 2014

The story of a plane pushed by the passengers before it could be flown (see my previous post) was developed in quite a number of photoshopped images posted on the Internet. Of those I liked the following:

2014-11-30PLANE-HAULERS IN SIBERIA. The association is with the famous picture ”Barge-Haulers on the Volga” by the Russian artist Illya Repin (see the picture), whose demonstration has been a part of high school program for years to show students the “hard life of people in tsarist Russia.”2014-11-30d-Volga Boatmen












July 25, 2014



Two paddies were working for the city public works department. One would dig a hole and the other would follow behind him and fill the hole in. They worked up one side of the street, then down the other, then moved on to the next street, working furiously all day without rest, one man digging a hole, the other filling it in again.
An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but couldn’t understand what they were doing. So he asked the hole-digger, “I’m impressed by the effort you two are putting in to your work, but I don’t get it – why do you dig a hole, only to have your partner follow behind and fill it up again?”
The hole-digger wiped his brow and sighed, “Well, I suppose it probably looks odd because we’re normally a three-person team. But today the lad who plants the trees called in sick.'”


What’s the difference between God and Bono?

God doesn’t wander around Dublin thinking he’s Bono.


Billy stops Paddy in Dublin and asks for the quickest way to Cork.
Paddy says, “Are you on foot or in the car?”
Billy says, “In the car.”
Paddy says, “That’s the quickest way.”


Gallagher opened the morning newspaper and was dumbfounded to read in the obituary column that he had died. He quickly phoned his best friend Finney.

“Did you see the paper?” asked Gallagher. “They say I died!!”

“Yes, I saw it!” replied Finney. “Where are ye callin’ from?”



“Young man,” said the judge, looking sternly at the defendant. “It’s alcohol and alcohol alone that’s responsible for your present sorry state!” “I’m glad to hear you say that,” replied Murphy, with a sigh of relief. “Everybody else says it’s all my fault!”



A Texan walks into a pub in Ireland and clears his voice to the crowd of drinkers. He says, “I hear you Irish are a bunch of hard drinkers. I’ll give $500 American dollars to anybody in here who can drink 10 pints of Guinness back-to-back.”

The room is quiet and no one takes up the Texan’s offer. One man even leaves. Thirty minutes later the same gentleman who left shows back up and taps the Texan on the shoulder. “Is your bet still good?”, asks the Irishman.

The Texan says yes and asks the bartender to line up 10 pints of Guinness. Immediately the Irishman tears into all 10 of the pint glasses drinking them all back-to-back. The other pub patrons cheer as the Texan sits in amazement.

The Texan gives the Irishman the $500 and says, “If ya don’t mind me askin’, where did you go for that 30 minutes you were gone?”

The Irishman replies, “Oh…I had to go to the pub down the street to see if I could do it first”.


You’ve got mail!!


John O’Byrne was mowing his front lawn, when his neighbor, Paddy Maguire, came out of his house and went straight to the mailbox. Paddy opened it, looked inside, slammed it shut and stormed back into his house. A little while later, Paddy came out again, went to the mailbox, opened it and slammed it shut again. Angrily he went back into his house. As John was getting ready to edge the lawn, Paddy came out of his house again and marched straight over to the mailbox. Red with frustration he checked it a third time and slammed it closed, this time harder then ever. Puzzled by his neighbor’s actions, John inquired “Is something wrong?”. Paddy repled, “Ya, there certainly is, my stupid computer keeps telling me I have mail!”



Primary school teacher: Tell me, Paddy. Do you say prayers before dinner? — Paddy: No, miss, I don’t have to. My mammy’s a good cook.


  1. Some Newspaper Headlines
  • Safety Experts say school bus passengers should be belted
  • Survivor of Siamese twins joins parents
  • Iraqi head seeks arms
  • Prostitutes appeal to Pope
  • Panda mating fails; Veterinarian takes over
  • President wins on budget, but more lies ahead
  • Enraged cow injures farmer with ax
  • Plane too close to ground, crash probe told
  • Stolen painting found by tree
  • Two ships collide, one dies
  • 2 sisters reunited after 18 years in checkout counter
  • If strike isn’t settled quickly, it may last a while
  • Enfield couple slain; Police suspect homicide


3.      HOW TO WRITE ENGLISH GOOD from the Casey Stengle School of Brooklynese (1) Just between you and I: case is important. (2) Don’t use no double negatives. (3) A preposition is something you should never end a sentence with. (or as Sir Winston Churchill once said; “This is the type of nonsense up with I will not put!”). (4) It is always good practice to never split infinitives. (5) Don’t write a run-on sentence you have to punctuate it. (6) When one is writing, it is important to maintain your point of view. (7) Proofread your work. Do not tolerate mispellings! (8) Watch out for irregular verbs which have croped into the language. (9) Don’t say the same thing more than once. It’s redundant and repetious. (10) You should be aware of the conditional case if you was to use it. (11) The smothering of verbs is a cause of the weakening of the sentence impact. (12) Avoid the utilization of enlarged words when shortened ones will do. (13) Make sure you hyp-henate properly. (14) Sentences should be written in the active voice when giving instructions, so that the subject of the action can be identified clearly. (15) Avoid the use of dyed-in-the-wool cliches. (16) The defacto use of foreign phrases vis-a-vis plain English in your written tete-a-tetes makes the sentence harder to understand.  (17) Each pronoun should agree with their antecedent. (18) It has come to our considered attention that in a large majority of cases, far too many people use a great deal more words than is absolutely necessary when engaged in the practice of writing sentences. (19) Be careful of dangling participles writing a paper.

PREDICTIONS FROM THE PAST: the BBC launches English by Radio in 1943

September 18, 2013

The BBC Learning English staff are trying to see the present-day methodology through the eyes of a teacher who started teaching English by Radio in 1943

STUDENTS’ HUMOUR picked up from the Internet

June 1, 2013

2013-06-01PC 1.      Political Correctness

You don’t have detention, you’re just one of the “exit delayed.”

Your bedroom isn’t cluttered, it’s just “passage restrictive.”


You’re not late, you just have a “rescheduled arrival time.”

You don’t talk a lot. You’re just “abundantly verbal.”

You’re not being sent to the principals office. You’re “going on a mandatory field trip to the administrative building.”

It’s not called gossip anymore. It’s “the speedy transmission of near-factual information.”

The food at the school cafeteria isn’t awful. It’s “digestively challenged.”


2013-06-01A2.      Flying Home for Holidays.

A student was heading home for holidays. When she got to the airline counter, she presented her ticket to Houston. And as she gave the agent her luggage, she made this remark: “I’d like you to send my green suitcase to Hawaii, and my red suitcase to London.”

The confused agent said, “I’m sorry, we can’t do that.”

“Really??? I am so relieved to hear you say that because …That’s exactly what you did to my luggage last year!”





2013-06-01N3.      “Ways A Nerd Can Impress” joke.


Ways A Computer Nerd Can Impress His Date:


a.Flash the big wads of tens and twenties you created with your color laser printer and top-notch graphics program.


b. Spend an evening playing floppy disks backward, listening for the secret messages about Satan.


c. Drive her crazy by murmuring tender love words with the help of a French-speaking voice synthesizer.


d. When things get tough, simply ask yourself, “What would Bill Gates and Steve Jobs do in a situation like this?


December 10, 2012

This week saw two anniversaries which bear some similarity, though they relate to different times and involve different people.

On December 7, 1972 the American astronauts Gene Cernan, Jack Schmitt, and Ron Evans lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center on their way to the Moon. Cernan became the 12th and, so far, the  last man to set foot on the lunar surface. The Apollo program was finished.

2012-12-10Apollo17Yesterday I watched on the Internet the celebration of the 40th anniversary of that flight to the Moon.  Eugene Cernan spoke bitterly about the frustration of the hopes which they had cherished half a century ago. “We are standing with our hands in our pockets… It is tremendously disappointing… A half century ago, we went 250,000 miles, cracked the door open, and never walked through it into the future. The future is still out there…(At the moment) we spend one half of one penny of every one of our tax dollars on space, all of space”

“To say that I thought it would be 40 years, or what is really going to turn out to be 50 or 60 years before Americans are back on the moon, I would not have guessed that at all,” Harrison (“Jack”) Schmitt added.

The mission that was supposed to start a path toward space travel became only a history lesson.

The second anniversary was about Mathias Rust, a German teenager from Hamburg. Twenty-five years ago he 2012-12-09Rust4started serving his four-year jail sentence in the Soviet Union. Six months before that, on May 28 (right on Border Guards Day in the ex-USSR), he landed his Cessna plane near the Kremlin towers because, as he said at that time, he “wanted to set an imaginary bridge between East and West.”  Mathias Rust, became a hero in West Germany having gone through the Soviet air defenses, Michael Gorbachev used his flight to kick out hard-liners from the government, and for most people in the Soviet Union the 19-year-old German was a sympathetic character. As a dedicated Gorbachevite  in those days, I was really glad when Mathias Rust was released after 14 months of staying in prison.

Later Mathias brushed with the law again: first he went behind bars in Germany for having stabbed a young woman who had spurned his advances. In 2001 he was convicted of theft, in 2005 he was convicted of fraud and had to pay €1,500 for stolen goods. Now he describes himself as a financial analyst, a poker player and a yoga instructor.

We were all dreamers when we were young. The American astronauts who thought about an exciting era they were opening, millions of the Russians who sympathized with Rust, and, probably, even Mathias Rust himself, who might have really believed that he was building the “imaginary bridge.”

Those dreams are gone. Instead, there came other expectations: the Americans hope their Mars Rover will find life on the Red Planet, Mother Russia looks forward to pulling her wayward children back into her lap, the Ukrainians desperately want to become orphans.

On a positive note, however, it should be mentioned that both the space endeavor of the 1960s and the Mathias Rust flight generated a good many jokes. One is the popular myth that NASA planned to develop a pen that would write in outer space, would contain enough ink, would not depend on changes of temperature or air pressure, would not be too big in size and would stay comparatively cheap. To which the people from the development laboratory said, “Hey, guys, haven’t you tried a pencil?”

On the other side of the globe, people were queuing up on Red Square with their travel bags, suitcases, etc. When asked why they were standing there, they answered, “Waiting for a flight to Hamburg.”


November 10, 2011

This morning I sat down to my desk to check my email and I thought it wouldn’t be  bad to find a joke or two on the Internet just to get rid of my sleepiness. I was surprised to find a Joke -For-Every-Day web page. There follows one from the series of “Thursday” jokes which I liked:

On Holiday:
I was at London Gatwick airport one Thursday, checking in at the gate, when the airport employee asked, ‘Has anyone put anything in your baggage without your knowledge?’ I answered, ‘If it was without my knowledge, how would I know?’  He smiled and nodded knowingly, ‘That’s why we ask.’

Besides, a couple of linguistic jokes went in a bundle with the first one. As a professional I liked them too.

Translations of Academic Jargon

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Rumour has it.

A really wild guess.

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