Humour is one of the things that often doesn’t translate too well interculturally. Sarcastic, ironic humour is one example – which can be perceived as rude by other cultures. The British style of self-deprecating humour is often seen as incomprehensible by others who take it literally.
But the biggest type of humour that doesn’t translate is the pun. Because it is language based, it simply doesn’t translate linguistically.
In Sweden, the west coast city of Gothenburg is known for its puns. The humour is based on witty plays with words, the more groan-worthy the better. In English, we refer to these as Dad jokes – pun-filled quips that make every child’s eyes roll and every father’s heart fill with pride and accomplishment. No matter how bad they are, these jokes always manage to get at least a chuckle out of us. Maybe deep down we actually think they’re funny, or maybe we just love to see our dads smile because they made us laugh. Here are a couple of Gothenburg jokes, which simply don’t translate…
‘Which country has the cheapest meat?’
‘Ko-rea’ (Cow sale)
‘What noise comes out of a court?’
‘Rättsväsendet’ (Word for judicial system, but also translates as justice hiss’)
So, as these didn’t translate. Let me present you with some of the best English dad jokes that would make any Gothenburger proud.
1. ‘Why don’t crabs give to charity?’
‘Because they’re shellfish’
2. ‘I got hit in the head with a can of Diet Coke today. But don’t worry, it was a soft drink.’
3. ‘A ham sandwich walks into a bar. Sorry, says the bar tender, we don’t serve food here.’
4. ‘How do you make an octopus laugh?’
‘With ten tickles’
5. ‘My wife asked me to sync her phone. So I threw it in the ocean.’
And my own dad’s favourite joke that he used to say every time we went past a cemetery –
‘You know that’s the dead centre of town. People are dying to get in there.’
Do you know any Gothenburg puns? Please share them!