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Old 2nd November 2019, 05:56 PM   #1
Hans
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Help understanding an old British jest

""Lord Willougby de Broke was a very singular character, and had more peculiarities than any nobleman of his day. Coming once out of the House of Peers, and not seeing his servant among those who were waiting at the door, he called out in a very loud voice, " Where can my fellow be? " . — "Not in Europe, my lord," said Anthony Henley, who happened to be near him, "not in Europe.'""

https://play.google.com/books/reader...en&pg=GBS.PA62

The book was printed in 1864 but its not clear which of many de Broke's they are talking about.

Link to the Wikipedia page on the fellow: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baron_Willoughby_de_Broke

Sorry guys I just don't get the jest - any suggestions?

Does 'Fellow be' and 'not in Europe' sound like something else?
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Old 2nd November 2019, 06:26 PM   #2
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Couldn't it simply be that if he called out 'in a very loud voice', that the joke was all of Europe could evidently hear the call so his fellow must not be within?
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Old 2nd November 2019, 07:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
Couldn't it simply be that if he called out 'in a very loud voice', that the joke was all of Europe could evidently hear the call so his fellow must not be within?
Likely. As jokes go, unfunny as hell.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 08:53 PM   #4
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Could also mean that there is no one like him, in Europe.

(Interpreting "Where is my fellow?" to mean "Where is someone, like me?")

i.e. Saying that he is peculiar.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 09:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by novaphile View Post
Could also mean that there is no one like him, in Europe.

(Interpreting "Where is my fellow?" to mean "Where is someone, like me?")

i.e. Saying that he is peculiar.
That is my guess as well.

Old jokes are often so bad that they can be difficult to understand. I've puzzled over many jokes in old newspapers trying to figure out the hidden meaning only to eventually figure out that they mean exactly what they say. They just aren't funny. We have come a long way in joke telling.

This joke is not a play on words. Here is another version of the same joke:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20352/20352-8.txt

Quote:
MCDXXV.--QUESTION ANSWERED.

THAT idiot W---- coming out of the Opera one night, called out, "Where
is my fellow?"--"_Not in England_, I'll swear," said a bystander.
I think the joke is on the word "fellow". A fellow could mean a personal servant. It can also mean a peer--a person's equal. Here, the man asks where his fellow is, meaning his servant. The response then uses the meaning of a peer, implying that the person is so peculiar or such an idiot that the he is not equal to anyone in the whole country or continent.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 09:50 PM   #6
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I think I have found my favorite punchline of the set:

Quote:
"I'll give it the stroke of a bishop if your majesty pleases," was the suggestive rejoinder.
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Old 2nd November 2019, 10:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
That is my guess as well.

Old jokes are often so bad that they can be difficult to understand. I've puzzled over many jokes in old newspapers trying to figure out the hidden meaning only to eventually figure out that they mean exactly what they say. They just aren't funny. We have come a long way in joke telling.

This joke is not a play on words. Here is another version of the same joke:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20352/20352-8.txt



I think the joke is on the word "fellow". A fellow could mean a personal servant. It can also mean a peer--a person's equal. Here, the man asks where his fellow is, meaning his servant. The response then uses the meaning of a peer, implying that the person is so peculiar or such an idiot that the he is not equal to anyone in the whole country or continent.
I think that might be it - sometimes it takes another 'pair of eyes" to see something - I was looking for something more complicated.

Thanks
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Old 3rd November 2019, 03:29 AM   #8
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I agree. The word fellow comes from Nordic (here Danish) fælle, for instance in navnefælle = namesake or have noget til fælles = have something in common. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fellow
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Old 3rd November 2019, 09:55 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Likely. As jokes go, unfunny as hell.
But fairly typical for the HoL.
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Old 3rd November 2019, 12:24 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Likely. As jokes go, unfunny as hell.
I thought it was pretty good!
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Old 3rd November 2019, 08:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
That is my guess as well.

Old jokes are often so bad that they can be difficult to understand. I've puzzled over many jokes in old newspapers trying to figure out the hidden meaning only to eventually figure out that they mean exactly what they say. They just aren't funny. We have come a long way in joke telling.

This joke is not a play on words. Here is another version of the same joke:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20352/20352-8.txt



I think the joke is on the word "fellow". A fellow could mean a personal servant. It can also mean a peer--a person's equal. Here, the man asks where his fellow is, meaning his servant. The response then uses the meaning of a peer, implying that the person is so peculiar or such an idiot that the he is not equal to anyone in the whole country or continent.

Let me puzzle you with one more - since you did so well with the other:

Lord Ellenborough, on his return from Hone's trial, suddenly stopped his carriage at Charing Cross, and said, "It occurs to me that they sell the best herrings in London at that shop. Buy six."
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Old 3rd November 2019, 08:44 PM   #12
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For a jakes-minded greasy-lipped prattler he hath no fellow.

I just made that up. And I was NOT thinking of TM.

Hey, a degree in English hath, I mean has, its uses.
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Old 4th November 2019, 01:15 AM   #13
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This one has taken some research. It appears that this may really be an anecdote rather than a joke, per se.

William Hone owned a bookstore. He also published books and manuscripts. He was a political activist who was very much against the corruption and conceit of the established aristocracy and politicians. He attacked these figures by writing and publishing pollical satire and parodies. They were not amused.

In 1817 Hone was brought to trial in London for blasphemy, libel, and sedition. The prosecution selected three parodies, which would result in three trails on three separate days.

The trials were overseen by Lord Ellenborough (Edward Law, 1st Baron Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales). Ellenborough was known as a strict a severe judge. A separate story or jest tells of him at dinner. Someone suggests helping him to some fowl. He refuses and says he will try the beef. Another comments that if his does, it must be hung beef. The obvious joke here is on “try” and “hung”. Hung beef is beef that has been hung to dry to make it more tender. He says he will try the beef, meaning he will taste it. But the other interprets as meaning he will try the beef as a judge in a trial, and that it then must be hung beef. The implication is that Ellenborough is a hanging judge who will order execution at every trial.

Ellenborough was not unbiased. He was part of the corrupt government Hone was fighting against. He wanted Hone convicted.

These trials were a big deal at the time. This was David against Goliath. The lone common man against the powerful forces of corruption and evil. The right of the public to call out the misdeed and wrongdoings of politicians. Hone had become one of the most famous men in England.

In his defense, Hone brought in stacks of books containing parodies and satires similar to his own. He read from these, much to the amusement of the gallery. Ellenborough was not pleased.

After the jury found Hone not guilty on the first day, Ellenborough (the judge) actually took over the prosecution himself.

After the jury found Hone not guilty on the second day, the public had very much turned toward Ellenborough in pursuing yet another trail. But he did. He even ordered the jury to find Hone guilty. But they did not.

On the third day there was a huge crowd of thousands outside the courtroom. They cheered when Hone was found not guilty. Hone later said that the forces of repression had been literally “laughed out of Court”!

This was perceived by many as a fatal blow to Ellenborough, both politically and physically. There was later actually a rumor that the trail killed him. It did not. He lived about another 11 months before he died at the age of 68. But he did write a letter expressing a wish to resign the day after the trial. He was in ill health, and his health declined rapidly after the trial.

Despite the perception that Ellenborough had been done in by the trial, there are two stories concerning his ride home from the court that appear to have the intent of showing how uncaring and unconcerned Ellenborough was over what many in the public viewed as a significant damage to him and the corrupt government. Both seem to be demonstrations of his bravado and disregard of the public opinion against him.

He is riding home from court with Dr. Turner (later Bishop Turner). A mob has formed and is following him yelling insults and so forth. He comments to Turner that he is not afraid of their saliva, but not their bite. My guess here is that he is saying that he is only afraid of being physically spit upon, but he is not afraid of a metaphorical bite because he knows that these people are powerless against a man in his position.

The second story is, of course, the one cited. Turner says Ellenborough is laughing and cheerful despite the crowd. At Charing Cross he stops the carriage and casually decides to buy six herrings on a whim. One commentary says he then heartily enjoyed his meal before moving along.

I’m not sure of the relevance of buying six. I think it is simply suggesting he bought a fair amount.

I’m not sure of the relevance of Charing Cross. It appears to be mentioned in every version of this story. It is the meeting of six roads, but I can’t make anything of that. My guess is that the relevance is simply that it is considered the center of London.

A number of versions use “red herrings” instead of just “herrings”. A red herring is a term used to mean something misleading. That usage was in existence at the time, but probably not for very long. I’m not sure how popular it was at the time. But it appears that meaning is not part of the joke.

Other versions of this story say that he stopped to buy six black puddings. One commentary suggests that this is a more suitable meal for a hanging judge. I’m not sure why that would be the case.

The commonality that I can find between red herring and black pudding is that they were considered quite modest food. Even the best in London is not worth stopping for when being chased by an angry mob.

This would be like a prominent U.S. politician who has just been exposed for corruption but knows there will be no actually consequences going to the center of Washington DC and while surrounded by a mob with torches and pitchforks saying, “Oh look! The McRib is back! Let’s go to the drive-through and get a whole bag full.”

The joke is that the behavior is entirely inappropriate for the circumstances and exposes the conceit and lack of concern of consequences of a person in a position of power.
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Old 4th November 2019, 01:43 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
This one has taken some research. It appears that this may really be an anecdote rather than a joke, per se.

William Hone owned a bookstore. He also published books and manuscripts. He was a political activist who was very much against the corruption and conceit of the established aristocracy and politicians. He attacked these figures by writing and publishing pollical satire and parodies. They were not amused.

In 1817 Hone was brought to trial in London for blasphemy, libel, and sedition. The prosecution selected three parodies, which would result in three trails on three separate days.

The trials were overseen by Lord Ellenborough (Edward Law, 1st Baron Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales). Ellenborough was known as a strict a severe judge. A separate story or jest tells of him at dinner. Someone suggests helping him to some fowl. He refuses and says he will try the beef. Another comments that if his does, it must be hung beef. The obvious joke here is on “try” and “hung”. Hung beef is beef that has been hung to dry to make it more tender. He says he will try the beef, meaning he will taste it. But the other interprets as meaning he will try the beef as a judge in a trial, and that it then must be hung beef. The implication is that Ellenborough is a hanging judge who will order execution at every trial.

Ellenborough was not unbiased. He was part of the corrupt government Hone was fighting against. He wanted Hone convicted.

These trials were a big deal at the time. This was David against Goliath. The lone common man against the powerful forces of corruption and evil. The right of the public to call out the misdeed and wrongdoings of politicians. Hone had become one of the most famous men in England.

In his defense, Hone brought in stacks of books containing parodies and satires similar to his own. He read from these, much to the amusement of the gallery. Ellenborough was not pleased.

After the jury found Hone not guilty on the first day, Ellenborough (the judge) actually took over the prosecution himself.

After the jury found Hone not guilty on the second day, the public had very much turned toward Ellenborough in pursuing yet another trail. But he did. He even ordered the jury to find Hone guilty. But they did not.

On the third day there was a huge crowd of thousands outside the courtroom. They cheered when Hone was found not guilty. Hone later said that the forces of repression had been literally “laughed out of Court”!

This was perceived by many as a fatal blow to Ellenborough, both politically and physically. There was later actually a rumor that the trail killed him. It did not. He lived about another 11 months before he died at the age of 68. But he did write a letter expressing a wish to resign the day after the trial. He was in ill health, and his health declined rapidly after the trial.

Despite the perception that Ellenborough had been done in by the trial, there are two stories concerning his ride home from the court that appear to have the intent of showing how uncaring and unconcerned Ellenborough was over what many in the public viewed as a significant damage to him and the corrupt government. Both seem to be demonstrations of his bravado and disregard of the public opinion against him.

He is riding home from court with Dr. Turner (later Bishop Turner). A mob has formed and is following him yelling insults and so forth. He comments to Turner that he is not afraid of their saliva, but not their bite. My guess here is that he is saying that he is only afraid of being physically spit upon, but he is not afraid of a metaphorical bite because he knows that these people are powerless against a man in his position.

The second story is, of course, the one cited. Turner says Ellenborough is laughing and cheerful despite the crowd. At Charing Cross he stops the carriage and casually decides to buy six herrings on a whim. One commentary says he then heartily enjoyed his meal before moving along.

I’m not sure of the relevance of buying six. I think it is simply suggesting he bought a fair amount.

I’m not sure of the relevance of Charing Cross. It appears to be mentioned in every version of this story. It is the meeting of six roads, but I can’t make anything of that. My guess is that the relevance is simply that it is considered the center of London.

A number of versions use “red herrings” instead of just “herrings”. A red herring is a term used to mean something misleading. That usage was in existence at the time, but probably not for very long. I’m not sure how popular it was at the time. But it appears that meaning is not part of the joke.

Other versions of this story say that he stopped to buy six black puddings. One commentary suggests that this is a more suitable meal for a hanging judge. I’m not sure why that would be the case.

The commonality that I can find between red herring and black pudding is that they were considered quite modest food. Even the best in London is not worth stopping for when being chased by an angry mob.

This would be like a prominent U.S. politician who has just been exposed for corruption but knows there will be no actually consequences going to the center of Washington DC and while surrounded by a mob with torches and pitchforks saying, “Oh look! The McRib is back! Let’s go to the drive-through and get a whole bag full.”

The joke is that the behavior is entirely inappropriate for the circumstances and exposes the conceit and lack of concern of consequences of a person in a position of power.
Haha
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Old 4th November 2019, 02:42 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
Other versions of this story say that he stopped to buy six black puddings. One commentary suggests that this is a more suitable meal for a hanging judge. I’m not sure why that would be the case.
I suspect the analogy is that Black Pudding is made from (among other things) pigs blood.
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Old 4th November 2019, 06:30 AM   #16
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I have a book of collected Punch material from World War I and you have got to wonder if it was ever laughed at.

Given that the silent comedies that appeared soon after are still funny, our sense of humour cannot have changed that much.
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Old 4th November 2019, 10:08 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by novaphile View Post
Could also mean that there is no one like him, in Europe.

(Interpreting "Where is my fellow?" to mean "Where is someone, like me?")

i.e. Saying that he is peculiar.

It almost has to be that, otherwise the set up of him being "a very singular character" is entirely out of place.
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Old 4th November 2019, 01:28 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
This one has taken some research. It appears that this may really be an anecdote rather than a joke, per se.

William Hone owned a bookstore. He also published books and manuscripts. He was a political activist who was very much against the corruption and conceit of the established aristocracy and politicians. He attacked these figures by writing and publishing pollical satire and parodies. They were not amused.

In 1817 Hone was brought to trial in London for blasphemy, libel, and sedition. The prosecution selected three parodies, which would result in three trails on three separate days.

The trials were overseen by Lord Ellenborough (Edward Law, 1st Baron Ellenborough, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales). Ellenborough was known as a strict a severe judge. A separate story or jest tells of him at dinner. Someone suggests helping him to some fowl. He refuses and says he will try the beef. Another comments that if his does, it must be hung beef. The obvious joke here is on “try” and “hung”. Hung beef is beef that has been hung to dry to make it more tender. He says he will try the beef, meaning he will taste it. But the other interprets as meaning he will try the beef as a judge in a trial, and that it then must be hung beef. The implication is that Ellenborough is a hanging judge who will order execution at every trial.

Ellenborough was not unbiased. He was part of the corrupt government Hone was fighting against. He wanted Hone convicted.

These trials were a big deal at the time. This was David against Goliath. The lone common man against the powerful forces of corruption and evil. The right of the public to call out the misdeed and wrongdoings of politicians. Hone had become one of the most famous men in England.

In his defense, Hone brought in stacks of books containing parodies and satires similar to his own. He read from these, much to the amusement of the gallery. Ellenborough was not pleased.

After the jury found Hone not guilty on the first day, Ellenborough (the judge) actually took over the prosecution himself.

After the jury found Hone not guilty on the second day, the public had very much turned toward Ellenborough in pursuing yet another trail. But he did. He even ordered the jury to find Hone guilty. But they did not.

On the third day there was a huge crowd of thousands outside the courtroom. They cheered when Hone was found not guilty. Hone later said that the forces of repression had been literally “laughed out of Court”!

This was perceived by many as a fatal blow to Ellenborough, both politically and physically. There was later actually a rumor that the trail killed him. It did not. He lived about another 11 months before he died at the age of 68. But he did write a letter expressing a wish to resign the day after the trial. He was in ill health, and his health declined rapidly after the trial.

Despite the perception that Ellenborough had been done in by the trial, there are two stories concerning his ride home from the court that appear to have the intent of showing how uncaring and unconcerned Ellenborough was over what many in the public viewed as a significant damage to him and the corrupt government. Both seem to be demonstrations of his bravado and disregard of the public opinion against him.

He is riding home from court with Dr. Turner (later Bishop Turner). A mob has formed and is following him yelling insults and so forth. He comments to Turner that he is not afraid of their saliva, but not their bite. My guess here is that he is saying that he is only afraid of being physically spit upon, but he is not afraid of a metaphorical bite because he knows that these people are powerless against a man in his position.

The second story is, of course, the one cited. Turner says Ellenborough is laughing and cheerful despite the crowd. At Charing Cross he stops the carriage and casually decides to buy six herrings on a whim. One commentary says he then heartily enjoyed his meal before moving along.

I’m not sure of the relevance of buying six. I think it is simply suggesting he bought a fair amount.

I’m not sure of the relevance of Charing Cross. It appears to be mentioned in every version of this story. It is the meeting of six roads, but I can’t make anything of that. My guess is that the relevance is simply that it is considered the center of London.

A number of versions use “red herrings” instead of just “herrings”. A red herring is a term used to mean something misleading. That usage was in existence at the time, but probably not for very long. I’m not sure how popular it was at the time. But it appears that meaning is not part of the joke.

Other versions of this story say that he stopped to buy six black puddings. One commentary suggests that this is a more suitable meal for a hanging judge. I’m not sure why that would be the case.

The commonality that I can find between red herring and black pudding is that they were considered quite modest food. Even the best in London is not worth stopping for when being chased by an angry mob.

This would be like a prominent U.S. politician who has just been exposed for corruption but knows there will be no actually consequences going to the center of Washington DC and while surrounded by a mob with torches and pitchforks saying, “Oh look! The McRib is back! Let’s go to the drive-through and get a whole bag full.”

The joke is that the behavior is entirely inappropriate for the circumstances and exposes the conceit and lack of concern of consequences of a person in a position of power.
Thanks for such a thorough look at it. In my own search I came across the black pudding and blood association but like you could make nothing of Charing cross or six fish. Puzzling.
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Old 5th November 2019, 03:05 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I have a book of collected Punch material from World War I and you have got to wonder if it was ever laughed at.

Given that the silent comedies that appeared soon after are still funny, our sense of humour cannot have changed that much.
Oh, that one's easy.
Punch has never been funny.
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Old 5th November 2019, 03:14 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
Oh, that one's easy.
Punch has never been funny.
I've been trying without success to track down a quote, which I thought was from Malcolm Muggeridge; someone put it to him that Punch "isn't as funny as it used to be," to which he replied, "True, but then again it never was."

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Old 7th November 2019, 06:46 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Tolls View Post
Oh, that one's easy.
Punch has never been funny.
Even in Victorian times, people made jokes about how unfunny Punch was.
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Old 8th November 2019, 03:02 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Even in Victorian times, people made jokes about how unfunny Punch was.
I work in translation and it's notoriously hard to translate most humor from one language to another. Much of it relies on peculiarities of the particular language that it was originally written in, or particular cultural knowledge of the people in that time and place.

I think something similar may be at play when we look at humor from a different time, such as more than a century ago. What was funny about it at the time may not be readily apparent to the modern reader without the cultural perspective or knowledge of the people at the time and place of origin.
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Old 8th November 2019, 06:02 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I work in translation and it's notoriously hard to translate most humor from one language to another. Much of it relies on peculiarities of the particular language that it was originally written in, or particular cultural knowledge of the people in that time and place.

I think something similar may be at play when we look at humor from a different time, such as more than a century ago. What was funny about it at the time may not be readily apparent to the modern reader without the cultural perspective or knowledge of the people at the time and place of origin.
Indeed. Who today actually gets all the jokes in Shakespeare without reading the footnotes put in to explain them? I think it's cruel to make schoolkids read Shakespeare without footnotes or explaining what the hell they're actually reading. So much dirty talk going undetected, by the very age group that would most appreciate it!
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Old 8th November 2019, 02:26 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
What was funny about it at the time may not be readily apparent to the modern reader without the cultural perspective or knowledge of the people at the time and place of origin.
Thirded.

If the original joke was in relation to some topical event, then finding out what the punchline meant would be well-nigh impossible without studying current affairs of the time.
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Old 8th November 2019, 02:29 PM   #25
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Am I the only one who keeps misreading the thread title as "an old British jet" and getting all excited?
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Old 8th November 2019, 08:37 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
Am I the only one who keeps misreading the thread title as "an old British jet" and getting all excited?


There you go don't want you to be unhappy
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Old 8th November 2019, 08:46 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by commandlinegamer View Post
Thirded.

If the original joke was in relation to some topical event, then finding out what the punchline meant would be well-nigh impossible without studying current affairs of the time.
I've been reading 19th century stuff for 50+ years and write book about that period and I still have major challenges understanding some political stands, social issues but the main problem is trying to puzzle out the humor - which is why I sometime need to ask all the smart people here questions and gain our opinions especially on technical and sporting matters. Part of the difficult is much of the 'higher' humor is tied in with a knowledge of French, Latin and Greek.

It gets far worse when I have to go into the 17th century deal with the French trying to understand their humor and jargon is even harder.
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Old 9th November 2019, 09:39 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Hans View Post
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped..._205210674.jpg

There you go don't want you to be unhappy
Ah! The Gloster E.28/39. My Dad worked on its design and it must have flown over my home -- though I don't remember much from that time as its first flight predates my first breath by two months.
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Old 9th November 2019, 10:33 AM   #29
Hans
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Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
Ah! The Gloster E.28/39. My Dad worked on its design and it must have flown over my home -- though I don't remember much from that time as its first flight predates my first breath by two months.
You felt its roar as it passed over.
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Old 9th November 2019, 10:59 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by Hans View Post
I've been reading 19th century stuff for 50+ years and write book about that period and I still have major challenges understanding some political stands, social issues but the main problem is trying to puzzle out the humor - which is why I sometime need to ask all the smart people here questions and gain our opinions especially on technical and sporting matters. Part of the difficult is much of the 'higher' humor is tied in with a knowledge of French, Latin and Greek.

It gets far worse when I have to go into the 17th century deal with the French trying to understand their humor and jargon is even harder.
A very interesting talk at Barnsley Skeptics in the Pub on the history of humour by Kate Davison. I made some attempt the next day to track some of the resources but too busy. For what it's worth.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journ...DB97DC3DB083A9
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Old 9th November 2019, 04:14 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Wudang View Post
A very interesting talk at Barnsley Skeptics in the Pub on the history of humour by Kate Davison. I made some attempt the next day to track some of the resources but too busy. For what it's worth.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journ...DB97DC3DB083A9
Thanks just my 'cup of tea'.
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