Sunday, March 4, 2012

Science: It Works Bitches

Non-Yiddish speakers, a large proportion of my blog's readership, are often told anecdotes and then told to minimize their enjoyment because the punchline "sounds better in Yiddish." They are often then subjected to gratuitous incoherent funfering.

Well today I will present to you all an anecdote which I heard in Yiddish whose punchline works much better in English! Joy!
A yeshiva boy and a heretic were once chatting about all sorts of abstract, metaphysical phenomena. The heretic was getting fed up with the yeshiva boy's thickheadness and interrupted him with a question
Heretic: What do horses eat?
Bochur: Hay
H: And what do they excrete?
B: Horse drek
H: What do cows eat?
B: Hay
H: And what do they excrete?
B: Big, flat cowpies
H: What do goats eat?
B: Hay
H: And what do they excrete?
B: Little ballies of goat drek
H: They all eat the same hay, yet the excrete such different drek! Why is that?
B: (shrugs shoulders ignorantly)
H: Well if you don't know shit, then why do you think you know about heaven?
OK. I'll admit it. The version I originally heard had the roles of the heretic and the bochur reversed. But seriously, don't you think this version makes much more sense? There's no way for an old-school yeshiva bochur to find out about animal digestive systems. But a heretic could just go to his friend the biologist, who is statistically likely to be a heretic himself, and find out why different animals make different kinds of poop.

I also lied when I said that the punchline is better in English. Sure "you don't know shit" has a double meaning in English, which it doesn't have in Yiddish. But what I translated as "you think you know about heaven" was originally something about "krichen in himmel." The verb "krichen" literally means "to crawl." But in English you can't say "Why are you crawling in heaven?" So I had to use the lame-sounding "why do you think you know about heaven." I'm sorry. This post did end with me harping about Yiddish words which cannot be accurately translated. I'm sorry.

20 comments:

  1. IIRC the story was with - or told by - R' Mendel.

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  2. Funny.
    And don't think I didn't notice the tags.

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  3. Bonne: I put them there with you in mind.
    TRS: happy for whom?

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  4. You. Who else would I be happy for?

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  5. sara for noticing the labels? Why should you be happy for me?

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  6. For getting to do what you like above all: be condescending to BTs.

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  7. Oh, but I mean it in an endearing way.

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  8. Some of my best friends are BTs.

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  9. Some. In your case, I'm willing to suspend disbelief.

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  10. The truth is, when the basement blogging network was tighter, I really could say some of my best friends are BTs. Today? I don't know. Maybe.

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  11. oh gee, this is getting depressing. Maybe I'll organize a poetry slam so we can all start yelling about something controversial.

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  12. The relative goodness of various friends has shifted.

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  13. But you haven't made any new ones?

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Forth shall ye all hold.