Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Feb 05 2007

A joke? What is it?

Occasionally in Taiwan I encounter what I like to call the Airplane! treatment. For those of you who haven’t seen this brilliant 1980 movie, some of the jokes run thusly:

Rumack: You’d better tell the Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.

Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?

Rumack: It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now.

The Taiwan version of this usually involves a conversation with someone who possesses the intellectual knowledge that I speak Chinese but also has some sort of cognitive dissonance that prevents them from successfully internalizing that fact. They’re perfectly willing to speak with me in Chinese, but sometimes, out of the blue, they’ll feel the need to explain some perfectly obvious thing, reminding me of the Airplane! jokes.

Some Person: I won a clothes dryer at the office party, so my wife had a baby girl.

Me: So you’re saying the reason your wife had a girl instead of a boy was…

Some Person: It’s a machine that dries clothes.

Ok, so that might not be the best example, but you get the point. In any case, I wonder if the people I’m talking to, when they see me break out in laughter, think that I’m just ecstatic that I’ve finally learned the Chinese word for “clothes dryer” or whatever everyday thing we happen to be talking about.

It doesn’t happen that often; friends and people who know me well enough don’t usually do this, as they know I’ll ask them what something means if I don’t understand it. But when it does happen, I keep waiting for them to add “…but that’s not important right now.”

posted by Poagao at 3:08 pm  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment