I am very fond of humor and I enjoy a play on words in any language. When I was a kid we used to tell riddles and recite little poems that twisted words about to make them humorous. One of the earliest that I can remember goes:
My father was also fond of words. He used to recite little nonsense poems that sounded like he was talking in another language and you had to guess the meaning. One of my favorites went:
Tousen buses inarow.
Nojo, demis trucks,
Summit cowsin, summit ducks.
Say Billy, there they go,
A thousand buses in a row.
No, Joe, those are trucks,
Some with cows and some with ducks.
Mexican people do the same kind of word play in Spanish and it is very funny in Spanish but when you try to translate it into English you end up with a lot of explaining to do, not only because of language differences but also differences in culture. Here is an example that I received from our shop superintendent, "El Machete", the other day. There is quite a play on words here. Take note that the word "araña" means "spider" as a noun but the verb "arañar" means to scratch or claw something. Also note that "gatillo" means "trigger" but it also means "little cat" (kitten). The word "tuerto" means "blind in one eye" and I discovered that there is no one word for that in English even though there is one word for it in Latin, "luscus", for "blind in one eye".
¿Por qué un tuerto no va a la guerra?
Porque un tuerto es un ser.
Sears es la marca de una pistola.
La pistola tiene un gatillo.
El gatillo araña.
La araña teje un hilo.
El hilo se cose con una aguja.
La aguja tiene un ojo.
El que tiene un ojo es un tuerto.
Un tuerto no va a la guerra.
Why won't a "one eye" go to war?
Because a "one eye" is a being.
Sears is the brand of a pistol.
The pistol has a trigger.
The kitten reaches out its claws.
The spider spins a thread.
A thread is sown with a needle.
The needle has an eye.
One who has one eye is a "one eye".
A "one eye" doesn't go to war.
Now, I know what you are thinking. It may sound cute in Spanish but it falls very flat in English. That's the whole point. Once your ability in Spanish reaches the level where you and "get" the jokes you will really start to appreciate the humor of the Mexican people. Run this one by one of your Mexican friends or neighbors and see what they think. I'll bet that you at least get a grin if not a chuckle.
Here is another one that I call "The Common Denominator". It is a little "off-color" but more in the way of being scatological than being prurient. I guess you would call it a Mexican limerick.
En este mundo de matraca,
De cagar nadie escapa,
Caga el cura,
Y caga el papa,
Y hasta la mujer más guapa,
Deja su montón de caca.
In his world of nuisance and bother,
Nobody escapes the need to defecate.
The priest defecates,
And the Pope defecates,
And even the most gorgeous woman
Leaves her pile of "crap".
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