Friday, March 24, 2006

French jokes about women:
a translation exercise

I found a site called "Blagues sur les femmes," or Jokes About Women. The site's in French, and I'd like to translate the jokes for you this evening. Some of these jokes will be familiar to anglophones because they probably came from l'anglophonie, but other jokes will be less familiar-- a breast of fresh air. Some jokes are untranslatable, but I'll do my best. I also have to admit that one or two jokes were beyond me-- elles m'ont passé sous le nez, as the French say: they went right under my nose (i.e., they went right over my head).

Ladies: this might be a good time to go change your tampons or whatever it is you do when you head en masse to the restroom. None of these jokes is particularly nice toward women, but as a man, I'd be lying to you if I said they didn't make me laugh. Luckily, many of my female readers are of the highly evolved, Camille Paglia Post-feminist School-- i.e., they know there's no reason to be offended when jokes about men are equally available. In the post-feminist world, an unsolicited tittie twist can be answered by a kick in the balls with a spike-toed boot. For the rest of you humorless, man-hating bull-dykes, though, it's time to mount your dildo-shaped broomsticks and fly the fuck outta here.

Attention, c'est parti! And here we go!

[French joke in italics; my English translation follows each joke.]

- Le petit gars demande a son père: Papa, quand je suis venu au monde, qui m'a donné mon intelligence ?

C'est sûrement ta mère, répond le père, car moi j'ai encore la mienne.

The little kid asks his dad: "Pop, when I came into the world, who gave me my smarts?"

"Had to be your mother," answers the father, "Because I've still got mine."

Pourquoi une femme ça ressemble a une cigarette?
Tu l'allumes, tu la tires et tu la jettes.

Q: What do women and cigarettes have in common?
A: Get 'em lit, suck on 'em, then toss 'em aside.

- Quelle est la différence entre une usine et une femme ?
L'usine débite des caisses et la femme encaisse des bites.

Q: What's the difference between a factory and a woman?
A: Factories put out boxes, and women's boxes put out.

[The above is a somewhat risky translation. I'm left to wonder whether there isn't an English-language original that says this better than I have. The verb débiter means "to sell" or "to furnish" or "to debit." Phonetically, débite sounds like des bites, i.e., some dicks.]

Deux femmes se rencontrent. L'une dit à l'autre:- "Tu as l'air bien contente !"
- "Eh oui! j'ai réussi à faire un puzzle en six mois".
- "Et qu'y a-t-il d'extraordinaire ?"
- "Sur la boîte, c'était écrit de quatre à six ans !"

Two women meet up. One says to the other, "Well, you look happy!"
"Oh, yeah! I managed to finish a puzzle in six months!"
"What's so special about that?"
"On the box, it says 'Four to six years!'"

Que se disent deux vampires lesbiennes lorsqu'elles se quittent ?
- A dans 28 jours !!!

Q: What do two lesbian vampires tell each other when breaking up?
A: See you within 28 days!

[Frankly, I'm not sure I got this, or even if I've translated it correctly. I'm wondering whether, beyond the menses-bloodsucker connection, there isn't some reference to the recent zombie horror movie "28 Days" hidden in here. Not having seen that movie, I couldn't tell you. The reason I think I'm missing something is that the joke itself doesn't seem to make sense. The vampires are breaking up, so they have no reason to see each other anymore. Maybe the joke is saying that the only reason for them to meet is to drink each other's menstrual flow. That still doesn't make sense to me: a now-single lesbian vampire could just go clubbing and find herself another sapphic squeeze.

A little help, por favor.

UPDATE, April 14, 2010: The verb "se quitter" can be used to mean "to break up," but its literal meaning is "to leave each other." The riddle could be asking something along the lines of, "What do two lesbian vampires say in parting?"]

- Quelle est la différence entre une salope et une grosse salope?
La salope suce et se fait enculer alors que la grosse salope se fait enculer puis elle suce.

Q: What's the difference between a slut and a real slut?
A: A slut sucks you off, then takes it up the ass, while a real slut takes it up the ass, and then sucks you off.

Quelle est la différence entre un clitoris et les légos ? Si vous ne voyez pas alors retournez jouer aux légos.

Q: What's the difference between a clit and Legos?
A: If you don't know, then GO BACK TO PLAYING WITH LEGOS!

[I loved this riddle.]

Dieu a fait l'homme si complet qu'il lui a fallu mettre les organes génitaux à l'extérieur. Pour la femme, il y avait de la place de libre.

God made Man so complete that He had to stick the genitals outside the body. For Woman... there was still some room left over.

- Savez-vous pourquoi on dit qu'une jeune fille change de couleur le jour de son mariage ?
Le matin elle est en clair et le soir elle est enfoncée !

Q: Do you know why a young girl changes color on her wedding day?
A: Her morning starts off bright and white, but by evening she's fucked blue.

[I wouldn't mind some help translating this one. I'm not even sure it's translatable. The pun here involves the contrast between en clair and enfoncée, the latter of which sounds like en foncé. The adjective enfoncée (smashed in, dented, plunged into) suggests a woman now stuffed with cock snot. The pun is that en clair suggests "clarity" or "light color" while en foncé suggests darkness (foncé = dark).

So: A woman starts the day with morning brightness and finishes up with the darkness of evening.

But also: A woman starts the day brightly (white wedding dress, bubbling good cheer) and ends the day with happily bruised nether regions. That's essentially the pun being conveyed by the French. Again, I'm really not sure this translates. I might have to have another go at this.]

Pourquoi Dieu a-t-il donné des jambes aux femmes ?
Parce que sinon on les suivrait à la trace comme les escargots.

Q: Why did God give women legs?
A: Because otherwise, we'd be following their snail trails.

[Obviously a reference to vaginal emissions.]

Pourquoi les filles ne portent pas de mini jupes en hiver ?
Pour ne pas avoir les lèvres gercées.

Q: Why don't women wear miniskirts in winter?
A: To avoid chapped lips.

[The creator of this riddle obviously hasn't been to Korea. And I suspect this riddle appeared in English first.]

Quelle est la différence entre un ascenseur et une jeune fille ?
Tu mets ton doigt où t'habites.

Q: What's the difference between an elevator and a girl?
A: You have to use different body parts to press the right button.

[This is another one that's damn hard to translate. Here's the breakdown of the French pun: when spoken, the above answer to the riddle can be understood as (a) Tu mets ton doigt où (tu) habites (you press your finger [on the button indicating the floor] where you live), or (b) Tu mets ton doigt ou ta bite (you use your finger or your dick-- i.e., the difference is that you use your finger in the elevator, but your dick in the girl). My translation attempts to capture the essence of the "elevator/girl, finger/dick" dichotomy mainly by letting the anglophone reader use his imagination.]

- Comment savoir si votre femme est morte?
Vous baisez toujours autant, mais la vaisselle sale s'empile.

Q: How can you tell if your wife is dead?
A: You're still fucking as much, but now the dishes are piling up.

[This is not one of those riddles you tell at a woman's funeral. Here, too, I think this riddle appeared in English first. Can't verify that, but it's a hunch.]

Trois beaux-frères discutent entre eux.
Le premier lance : qu'est-ce que vous avez offert à la belle-mère pour son anniversaire ?
L'un dit : moi je lui ai offert un collier en or, il est joli mais vous savez je gagne pas des cents et des milles alors. Je lui ai aussi offert une écharpe; comme ça si elle aime pas le collier elle pourra le cacher.
Le second raconte la même histoire avec une montre et des gants pour la cacher.
Et le troisième dit : moi je lui ai offert des boucles d'oreilles et un préservatif.
Pourquoi ? s'exclament les deux autres.
Parce que si elle n'est pas contente elle ira se faire enculer !!

Three brothers-in-law are talking. The first says, "What'd you get the mother-in-law for her birthday?"
One says: "Me, I got her a gold necklace. It's pretty, but I'm not rich, so I also got her a scarf. That way, she can hide the necklace if she doesn't like it."
The second one says the same thing, but in his case, it's a watch along with gloves to hide the merchandise.
The third brother-in-law says, "Yeah, well, I got her earrings and a condom."
"Why?" the others exclaim.
"Because if she doesn't like those earrings, she can go fuck herself."

[Elle ira se faire enculer is, literally translated, "She will go get herself fucked up the ass." That sounds awkward, so I took the liberty of changing the future tense into a modal "can." In the same situation, an American would most naturally say, "If she doesn't like it, she can (go) fuck herself."]

Quelle différence y a-t-il entre le chocolat et une belle-mère ?
Le chocolat ça constipe et la belle-mère ça fait chier.

Q: What's the difference between chocolate and mothers-in-law?
A: Chocolate blocks you up, but your mother-in-law gives you the shits.

[The expression faire chier is literally "to make [one] shit," but is used in the same way that Americans use the expression "to piss off," i.e., to anger (someone).]

Pourquoi on ne doit jamais croire une femme?
- Comment pourrait-on croire quelque chose qui saigne 5 jours de suite et qui ne meurt pas?

Q: Why should you never trust a woman?
A: How can you trust anything that bleeds for five days straight and doesn't die?

[I'm almost positive I've heard this riddle in English before.]

Savez-vous à quoi correspondent les lettres ABCDEF pour définir les tailles des bonnets de soutien-gorge?
A - Appréciable
B - Bien
C - Canon
D - Dément
E - Enorme
F - Des faux

Q: When talking bra cup sizes, what do the designations A, B, C, D, E, and F mean?


A = appreciable
B = budding
C = cannons
D = destroyers
E = enormous

[Here, I made the choice not to translate literally because it was important to preserve the ABCDEF structure, something the English alphabet shares with the French one. Had I translated literally, you would have seen: "appreciable, good, cannon, crazy (i.e., it's crazy how big those melons are!), enormous, and fake." I suppose I could have translated Dément with the interjection "Damn!", since the expression, "C'est dément, ça!" ("That's nuts!") is pretty common.]

I hope you enjoyed this brief tour through the French language as much as I did.

Thank you; come again. (But not on the same spot.)



  1. Little bit late to the party on this one, but this was an interesting post. Humor is one of the hardest things to translate, so it was interesting to see your attempts.

    One comment on the last joke, though. I like your "budding" for "bien," but I'm not sure about "destroyers" for "dément." "Demented" would seem like a much more obvious choice, or did that seem too negative a term?

  2. Good question.

    Yeah, "demented" is too negative. My slang knowledge is a bit out of date, but when I used to hear kids say, "C'est dément, ça!", it was always with a smile and always in the same context in which we anglophones would say either "That's fucked up!" or "Day-yamn!" (again, with a smile-- usually just expressing the positive emotion, "Wow!", like when someone reacts to a story about a blindlingly fast sports car, or about how a friend's big brother mangled his knee in an accident).

    In English, I think we tend to use "demented" almost exclusively to describe someone's mental condition, and always pejoratively. So it was a semantic field (champ notionnel) issue: because, in English, we never hear about "demented cocks" or "demented tits," it seemed wrong to head in that direction. Instead, I preferred to find a "D" word that would convey the same emotion as dément does.


  3. Hmm... that's a tough one. I can appreciate the play off of "cannons," but describing breasts as "destroyers" seems a bit odd. I would probably go with "Damn!", just judging by what you said about French slang.

    But that's the beauty of translation, running barefoot through the fields of semantics.

  4. Yes, I think "Damn!" might be the way to go with that one. "Destroyers" is a poor choice.


  5. Thanks so much for this post... my girlfriend is french and its awesome to share a joke!!

  6. Steve,

    Kudos to your girlfriend if she's a good enough sport to hear such jokes and laugh!

    How's your French?




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