Surprisingly, jokes serve a cultural learning benefit

Two weeks ago, I bought a Schülerwitze Kalenda, a calendar with a joke per day which suits for school children. At first, I just want to use it for learning German. But these days, I found that there are a mount of cultural things that I can learn from the jokes. Here are examples:

  1. Unter vier Augen sprechen. Talk under four eyes, meaning private talk.
“Papa, ich muss dich mal unter drei Augen sprechen.”
“Du musst wohl unter vier?”
“Nein, du musst mal wieder ein Auge zudrücken!”

There is absolutely no such saying in Chinese to use ‘under four eyes’ meaning private talk. But the next part of the joke with Ein Auge zudrücken (turn a blind eye to somebody/something) has a similar saying in Chinese “睁一只眼闭一只眼”.

2. Meerschweinchen. Guinea-pig. 荷兰猪

Wie nennt man einen versauten Seemann?

The “Meerschweinchen” here has a double meaning: the dirty seaman is like the dirty pig in the sea. I never know why this rat thing is named with “pig”, which has the same saying in English, German and Chinese. After checking, though the explanation is not very clear, there are at least two origin: the original name “Guinea” somehow means pig; the shape of this rat thing is like pig (well, I think only when it is fat enough).

3. Speinat: Spinat mit Ei.

a joke maybe works only in German.

Shimpft der koch mit der Kellner. Sagen Sie mal, wieso haben Sie denn ‘Speinat’ auf die Speisekarte geschrieben? — Sie haben mit mir gesagt, ich soll Spinat mit Ei schreiben.

Now when I eat Spinat mit Ei. I say “Speinat”. LOL

4. Windmühlen in Holland. Windmill in Holland.

Warum es in Holland so viele Windmühlen gibt?
Damit die Kühe immer frische Luft haben!

Didn’t know why there are so many windmill in Holland. Checked it and found that the most important purpose is for pumping water out of the lowlands and farm the land.

True, there are some “stupid” answer for the question, especially from Children. But actually, I don’t know the so called ‘right’ answer of these question either. I would say that the children’s answer are quite imaginative and most importantly, they are not afraid of giving answers. So bald!

All in all, more things need to be learnt and it’s much fun to learn with the jokes.