Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile My photos are here Previous Previous Next Next
Jôcs yn Gymraeg / Welsh Jokes - Helen's journal and online home
In which an old dog attempts to learn new tricks.
Jôcs yn Gymraeg / Welsh Jokes
Over on Tumblr (yes, I am slowly getting to grips with Tumblr), I'm doing a rather good language challenge called "A Polyglot New Year 2016". Each day, there's a new prompt. You choose your level and then post your response, tagging it with the challenge tag. This was actually yesterday's post, but I thought it was interesting enough to post here too.

For all levels: Find a joke/comic in your native language & share with an explanation of the joke (to help those who are learning your language), also find one for your target language(s) and see how much you understand!

As English is my native language and no one reads my Tumblr, I thought it was a bit pointless explaining English jokes as I'm sure plenty of other people will be doing it in places where people learning English will actually see the posts. Instead, I thought I'd look for some Welsh jokes and see if I could explain what makes them funny.

First of all, jokes are one of the hardest things to understand when learning a new language. Unlike a general conversation where you can get by with understanding say 80-90% of what is said, with a joke, you need to be able to understand every single word. You also need to know the culture really well to understand references that won't make sense to outsiders. Reading jokes is easier than listening because you can look up any words you don't know, but out of the jokes that I found with a quick Google search, I still only "got" about half. Of course I don't get every joke in English and even if I get it, I may not think it funny due to differences in sense of humour. Anyway, here are three that I rather liked. I've added translations and then an explanation.

Q: Beth ydy enw milkman gwaethaf yr Eidal? (What is the name of the worst milkman in Italy?)

A: Mario Torriboteli. (Mario Breaksbottles.)

This joke relies on the fact that the Welsh for "breaks bottles" sounds rather like an Italian surname.

Q: Be ti'n galw plison o Lanberis? (What do you call a policeman from Llanberis?)

A: Copar Wyddfa (Summit of Snowdon)

This is another play on words that relies on you knowing that a rather outdated slang word for a policeman in British English is "copper" (pronounced exactly like "copar") and that the most popular path to the summit of Snowdon starts in Llanberis.

Cyn bo’r ysgol yn torri lan am y prynhawn, ma’r prifathro yn atgofa’r plant i fod yn brydlon y bore canlynol oherwydd eu bod yn gadael yn gynnar ar drip yr ysgol. "A pheidiwch anghofio eich pres a phecyn brechdanau 'fori, blant," meddai fo.

Y bore wedyn tra bod y rhieni yn dod a’i plant i’r ysgol, ma un tad di-gymraeg yn dod lan at y prifathro mewn tymer ddrwg ac yn dweud wrth y prifathro rhywbeth tebyg i, "Hey! What on earth are you teaching my child in the classroom, she came home last night and said that you had told the class to bring their fucking sandwiches tomorrow!"

A dyna lle roedd yr hen brifathro druan yn gorfod egluro rheolau treiglo Cymraeg i’r tad!


Before the school finished for the afternoon, the headteacher reminded the children to be punctual the following morning because they were leaving early on a school trip. "And don't forget your money and a packet of sandwiches (phecyn brechdanau) tomorrow, children," he said.

The next morning while the parents were bringing their children to school, there was one non-Welsh speaking father who came up to the head teacher in a bad temper and said to the headteacher something like, "Hey! What on earth are you teaching my child in the classroom, she came home last night and said that you had told the class to bring their fucking sandwiches tomorrow!"

And that's where the poor old headteacher had to explain the rules of mutations to the father!


So... What makes that funny? Well, the initial letters of words in Welsh often alter according to arcane grammatical rules and one of the rules is that after the Welsh word for and ("a"), the letter "p" turns into a "ph" (pronounced as per the English "ph" in phone), so pecyn turns into phecyn which sounds like a very bad word indeed!

Current Mood: amused amused

6 comments or Leave a comment
seaivy From: seaivy Date: January 9th, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
i didn't get it all lol
but it reminded me of the french joke about a priest
it turns on the fact that to foreigners the words fish and sin sound similar
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: January 9th, 2016 03:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Belive it or not, they sound rather similar in Welsh too!

pysgod = fish
pechod = sin

Though the one that tends to trip up learners and causes great embarrassment all round is the fact that rhew = ice and rhyw = sex. You need to be very careful about how you pronounce those two. :)
seaivy From: seaivy Date: January 9th, 2016 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
LOL ROTF !!!!!!!
From: ex_hrj Date: January 9th, 2016 05:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, I got the first one, the second needed local knowledge of the trail name, and I stumbled on the third because my Welsh vocabulary doesn't include a lot of random everyday stuff (as opposed to what one encounters in academic papers!).

I recall a bilingual Welsh joke of the "what do you call" genre that played off the intersection between short English names and Welsh grammatical function words (bob, pam, etc.). But that one has to be told in English to work, I think.
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: January 11th, 2016 01:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Last year there was a woman called Pam in my Welsh class, so we could do the, "Pam, Pam?" joke for real. :)
heleninwales From: heleninwales Date: January 11th, 2016 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Further to needing to know the local stuff to understand the jokes, that's why when I'm listening to a Welsh comedian live on TV or radio, I often get all the build up to the joke and totally miss the punchline. Often it requires a knowledge of popular Welsh TV of the 70s, or something like that.
6 comments or Leave a comment