June 22, 2017

"Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, recently tweeted that he and Queen Elizabeth II were 'friends with mutual benefits.'"

"I sympathize: English expressions are confusing, some of them feel almost deliberately obscure – designed to exclude non-native speakers from the joke," writes Mona Chalabi, who was inspired to interview her mother — whose first language is Arabic — about what various English expressions might mean.

It's a good idea, but the mother is too self-protective to serve up the kind of comic fun that, say, Ricky Gervais extracted from Karl Pilkington over the meaning of "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones":

26 comments:

Dave from Minnesota said...

Laslo?

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

English expressions are confusing, some of them feel almost deliberately obscure – designed to exclude non-native speakers from the joke

Yes dear. English speakers are uniquely guilty, among all the cultures of the world, of ingroup-outgroup linguistics. No other culture, ever, uses jargon or in-jokes to tighten group bonds. No native English speaker has ever been laughed at for bungling a phrase in a language not their own.

@@

veni vidi vici said...

Apparently, YouTube expects me to sit through a 5 minute (!!!) commercial without the "Skip this ad in 5 seconds" button anywhere in existence onscreen in order to access the 4.5 minute Gervais animation. GTFO.

Ann Althouse said...

It didn't give me any commercial at all.

rhhardin said...

Demetri Martin on glass houses
http://www.cc.com/video-clips/5lepme/stand-up-demetri-martin--findings

CStanley said...

Ha the part about having to answer the door cracked me up because I've had to hide when people come to my front porch when I'm inadequately dressed and can't get to my bedroom to put on more clothing without passing by the front windows.

Virtually Unknown said...

It's like trying to explain stuff to some of the liberals around here. They look at everything literally, a lot of them are a lot like Karl.

Virtually Unknown said...

Pig Latin is well designed to exclude non native speakers, not ureshay atthay usway the urposepay.

bgates said...

Odd video, innit? Ricky Gervais as a young Fred Flintstone, Karl "Beetle Bailey" Pilkington, and I don't know who Mr Peabody's boy Sherman is.

Saint Croix said...

When I was a kid we had a greenhouse in our backyard. You'd think we'd call it a glass house but we didn't. Anyway there were some holes in our greenhouse.

So my friend and I would throw rocks at my greenhouse and make even more holes. And when my mom yelled at me, my defense was that there were already holes in the greenhouse so it was okay.

That did not convince her.

When I was in law school and I heard about the "attractive nuisance" concept I was like, yes, that's what it was. An attractive nuisance! Not my fault at all.

Also I have often found the opposite sex to be an attractive nuisance.

Anyway, people with glass houses should not throw stones. Your mom will yell at you. Even if the glass house already has holes in it and it's arguably an attractive nuisance at that point.

Also, if you tell a woman she's an attractive nuisance, very likely she will respond that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. And I'm like, "yeah, that's what my mom said."

Ann Althouse said...

"I don't know who Mr Peabody's boy Sherman is"

Stephen Merchant.

urbane legend said...

Saint Croix said...
Anyway, people with glass houses should not throw stones.

Does people who live in stone houses shouldn't throw glass mean the same thing?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Once you get stuck in the friend zone with a monarch, having a revolution is pretty much the only way to get out again.

Snark said...

I am so embarrassed. I have always though "screw the pooch" was synonymous with "fuck the dog". No idea it had anything to do with making a mistake. Though, settle down PETA! - I acknowledge that fucking the dog will always be mistake.

Wilbur said...

Wilbur's first wife - a native Cubana - who later taught ESL, remarked that the hardest thing in learning English for an immigrant were the numerous idioms we use.

For an example, kick the bucket.

lgv said...

I always thought the younger QE2 was kind of hot. Now we know I wasn't the only one.

CStanley said...

Wilbur's first wife - a native Cubana - who later taught ESL, remarked that the hardest thing in learning English for an immigrant were the numerous idioms we use.

For an example, kick the bucket.


Don't most languages have their own idioms though? My mom used to use a Polish one that apparently literally translates as "listen with your ears and not with your stomach." I think the words for those body parts rhymed, and the saying didn't have any further meaning aside from directing someone to listen more clearly, but when you take away the rhyme it made you wonder why anyone would say that.

Achilles said...

Pilkington has an incredible sense of humor.

eddie willers said...

Pilkington has an incredible sense of humor.

I hope Clive Warren plays him in the movie.

Static Ping said...

"Friends with benefits" is a euphemism. Not does only every language has euphemisms for taboo subjects, often different dialects of the same language have different euphemisms, and different geographic regions and/or different communities of the same basic dialect have different euphemisms. If you spend time with a group of people you tend to pick them up pretty quickly, but if you don't this sort of unintentional humor is more or less unavoidable. I'm not sure when "friends with benefits" became a common phrase, but the earliest Wikipedia reference is in the early 2000s. It is somewhat difficult to ask someone on a different continent to be hip to phrases that didn't exist two decades earlier.

However, I am sure that several porn productions are ramping up as we speak.

Char Char Binks said...

Hee Hu live in glass house dress in basement.

Mary Beth said...

To be fair, "don't go chucking things about" is good advice too.

Rusty said...

Carl is a shill.

Karen said...

I felt uncomfortable with the way the two were ganging up on the one, ridiculing him and egging him on and feeding him lines so that they could ridicule him some more. All too often they act that way on talk shows when theyhave a conservative guest.

Be said...

It's called Straight Man Comedy, Karen. Sorry that it (or my explanation) triggered you.

southcentralpa said...

I live in a conservative part of the "T" (rural Pennsylvania), and a local restaurant run by a veeeeeerrrrrry conservative family advertised on their sign out front "MM/DD Patsy Cline impersonator". About a day later the sign said "MM/DD Patsy Cline TRIBUTE ACT". I can only imagine the conversation(s) where people were as obliquely as possible trying to explain to the owners what they had been advertising on their sign the first time.