Some people would probably say that I struggle to tell good jokes in English, which is my first language. Indeed, both my wife and my best man mentioned this at my wedding. As my wife and I are bringing up our son using English and Welsh, one of my main language objectives for this year is to learn more jokes in Welsh. I may use Welsh regularly in and out of work, but I just haven’t learned all that many jokes along the way.
For my birthday last year, our son gave me a book of dad jokes on which he had written (in very neat handwriting for a six month old) ‘I think that I might regret getting this for you’. However, the fact that I speak to our son exclusively in Welsh means that he is less likely to hear me telling him the following jokes than he would have been had we not decided to bring him up bilingually:
William Shakespeare went into a pub. The barman took one look at him and said ‘you’re bard!’.
What do you get if you drop a piano down a coal shaft? A flat minor.
Why did the florist sell his shop? He could see that there was no fuchsia in it.
Now some of you will probably be thinking that our son’s childhood will be greatly enhanced by not having to endure such jokes. However, I really think that I would be failing in my paternal duties if I were not able to share with him a wide variety of jokes in Welsh. As it happens, reading a blog post entitled Easy Spanish Jokes for Kids on the website Spanish Playground got me thinking that I really needed to get my act together when it came to knowing jokes in Welsh as well as English. Within minutes of reading about kids’ jokes in Spanish, I had done a web search for Welsh language joke books and the following day I bought two of them from our local bilingual bookshop.
Some of the jokes in the two books were ones that also exist in English and may even be recognisable to non-Welsh speakers. In fact, let’s have a little quiz to see if any of those of you who don’t speak Welsh can identify these jokes without using an online translation website:
Beth gei di os wyt ti’n croesi ditectif a chacen Nadolig? Mins sbei!
Doctor, doctor, dwi’n meddwl mai bisgeden ydw i. Wel, chi’n swnio’n cracyrs i fi!
Beth yw mochyn sy’n gwneud carate? Porc tsiop!
I can’t offer you any prizes, but do please feel free to try to work out the English versions of the above jokes by posting your guesses in the comments section at the end of this article. As I mentioned in a blog post that I wrote last year about being a bilingual parent, I felt a bit like I’m cheating when I sing nursery rhymes to our son in Welsh that are more or less the same as ones that exist in English. It just seems that I’m not fully embracing bilingual parenting when I’m singing ‘mae’r olwyn ar y bws yn troi a throi…’. However, but the upside of having mentioned this is that several people have stumbled upon this blog after entering search terms such as ‘Welsh version of wheels on the bus‘ or ‘Welsh language wheels on the bus‘.
Thankfully, the two Welsh joke books that I purchased contained some good rib-ticklers that just wouldn’t work as well in English. I quite liked one section that contained jokes about pigs that involved rhymes with place names, such as this one:
Pam mae moch y Felinheli yn crynu wrth edrych ar y teli? Maen nhw’n teimlo’n ofnus braidd ‘rôl gweld y Gemau Olymp-blaidd.
Continuing on a pig theme, there was a joke about pigs going on holiday to Abersoch-soch, which plays on the fact that there is a place in North West Wales called Abersoch and Welsh speaking pigs generally say ‘soch, soch’ rather than ‘oink, oink’. It’d probably take me a while to explain why a policeman from Llanberis is called ‘Copa’r Wyddfa’ and a postman from the Netherlands is called ‘Vincent fan Goch’ but even those of you don’t speak a word of Welsh will probably understand the fact that DOLgellau is where Barbie goes on her holidays.
Before I end this blog post, I would like to launch a personal plea. If you are a Welsh speaker, please could you let me know your best kid-friendly jokes yn y Gymraeg. They may be jokes that you have been mocked or shunned for telling because they are so cringe-worthy, but they could play a big role in helping me to embrace an important part of being a bilingual parent. Diolch yn fawr!
I wrote this post as part of the Multilingual Kids Blogging Carnival for February that was organised by Olga Mecking of the European Mama blog. To read about the other posts that fellow bloggers have written as part of this blogging carnival about funny multilingualism stories, click on this link.
If you speak more than one language, how easy or difficult do you find telling and understanding jokes in several languages? Is it easier to be funnier in some languages rather than others? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.
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