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You know, jokes, starring interpreters. "Interpreter walks into a bar..." that sort of thing.

asked 16 May '12, 14:01

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edited 23 Jan '14, 04:33

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A really bad-tempered interpreter came down to the reception of the hotel he had been staying in for the night and blamed the receptionist for having missed his plane because he had not been given the wake-up call he had asked for at 5.30 a.m.

The receptionist tried to remain calm and said: "But Sir, I am very sorry you missed your plane, but we did give you the wake-up call you had asked for"

The interpreter was not at all happy with the answer and retorted in a rage: "But of course you should have waited until I picked up the phone so you could be sure I heard your phonecall".

The receptionist, well-trained and still very friendly answered: "Yes Sir, and that's exactly what we did"

The interpreter could not accept this answer and went on to complain: "But then, you should have waited until I said something so you could be sure I was awake!"

Whereupon the receptionist explained: "Yes, of course, Sir, that's also what we normally do - wait until we hear our guest speak to make sure he is awake. In fact, Sir, it was me who gave you the wake-up call at five thirty. You picked up the phone, I told you it was five thirty and you answered quite clearly: "Il est cinq heures et demie"....

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answered 17 May '12, 19:00

AlmuteL's gravatar image


It can't be cool to answer my own question, but an old interpreter joke just came back to me!

How many interpreters does it take to change a lightbulb?

It depends on the context!

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answered 04 Jun '12, 12:10

Andy's gravatar image


A missionary goes to Africa to visit a community, a very old, primitive tribal community. He gives a long sermon. For half an hour he tells a long anecdote, and then the interpreter stands up. He speaks only four words and everyone laughs uproariously. The missionary is puzzled. How is it possible that a story half an hour long can be translated in four words. What kind of amazing language is this? Puzzled, he says to the interpreter, "You have done a miracle. You have spoken only four words. I don't know what you said, but how can you translate my story, which was so long, into only four words?"

The interpreter says, "Story too long, so I say, 'He says joke -- laugh!' "

This joke and other jokes related to language and translation can be found on:

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answered 24 May '12, 18:33

AlmuteL's gravatar image


edited 26 May '12, 10:09

In the days when Bismarck was Chancellor of the German Empire and a towering figure in Europe, an American lady visiting Berlin desperately wanted to hear him speak. The concierge of the hotel she was staying managed to get her two tickets for the visitor's gallery of the Reichstag - one for her and one for an interpreter he had also found for her.

And she was lucky indeed: Shortly after she and her interpreter had arrived, Bismarck started to actively participate in the debate - and of course, the lady was very curious to learn what he said. So she leaned towards her interpreter in order not to miss out on any of the interpretation. But although Bismarck had already spoken for quite some time, the interpreter remained silent and did not even react when she nudged him.

When she couldn't bear to wait any longer she hissed at her interpreter: "Tell me, what's he saying?!!"

The interpreter kept his eyes fixed on Bismarck and replied: "Please, bear with me, Madam - I'm still waiting for the verb".

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answered 02 Apr '13, 19:19

AlmuteL's gravatar image


;-) I remember the following gem from one of my stints at Council, told by a fellow CM whose name, I'm sorry to say, escapes me: an architect and an engineer, sharing a bar counter with an aiic council member, try to stake their claim as to the seniority of their respective professions... the engineer goes " read the Bible, in the beginning there was chaos... and then God built the world, ie the first engineer!" ..."ah, yes, says the architect, in the beginning there was chaos and God did indeed build the world... but before He built it He 1st had to conceive it, ie the 1st architect"... whereupon the aiic CM raises weary head from glass and says "...and who do you think had created chaos?!"

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answered 21 May '12, 16:40

msr's gravatar image


edited 21 May '12, 16:52

How many interpreters does it take to change a light bulb?

A: I cant tell you, its confidential
A: 10. 1 to change it, 9 to give feedback on how they would do it differently.
A: 10. 1 to change it, 9 to say "Thats now how I do it where I am from!"
A: 3. 1 to change it, one to give feedback, one to give unwanted advice from the crowd.

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answered 07 Jul '15, 12:35

TerpyShann's gravatar image


edited 07 Jul '15, 12:49

Vincent%20Buck's gravatar image

Vincent Buck

There's a whole book that will make you laugh (and cry) about translators and their daily pains :

I heartily recommend it -

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answered 24 Oct '13, 16:11

Gregor_Seither's gravatar image


At the beginning of his presentation, a Chinese speaker cracked a joke through an interpreter at a meeting and after a few seconds the whole room burst into laughter. He was very pleased that finally some people have appreciated his joke.

At the end of the meeting he walked to the interpreter and told him: "You know I've cracked the same joke several times through interpreters but no one would laugh. I think it's hard to translate. You must be very good and I wonder how you managed to translate it.

The interpreter replied, "I simply said: the Chinese man has just cracked a joke, please laugh..."

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answered 30 May '15, 06:26

ekamanzi's gravatar image


I recall that Luigi once shared a hilarious joke with us in our Council meeting in Geneva, July 2009. I'm terrible at telling jokes so I'll refrain from telling it unless Luigi has had a very senior moment and has totally forgotten the joke (the one of the interpreter who dies and goes to heaven...)

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answered 17 May '12, 14:49

Vicky%20Massa's gravatar image

Vicky Massa

Hmmm... I remember one about Marx dying and going to heaven. He was an interpreter of sorts, but I suspect you must be thinking of something else.

(08 Jul '15, 00:18) Luigi

Since this question is about jokes, here is a very nice video on the interpretation of jokes:

Maybe you would also like to share some of your personal experience or advice in the context of interpreting jokes or puns....

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answered 17 Oct '13, 17:57

AlmuteL's gravatar image


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question asked: 16 May '12, 14:01

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