Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chinese Jokes!

Question: What’s a great way to start a conversation?

Well, if you have the VPC Book, you know we’re big on compliments – telling someone their hair/bag/dress looks good, that their baby is cute, etc. But there’s another way we like to break the ice – and it works on strangers, passing acquaintances, friends and co-workers!

Tell a funny joke! Or a silly one, or a stupid one…or combination thereof – really, it’s all the same. A riddle is a great conversation starter or ice breaker! That’s why the VPC Study Guide includes 45 jokes – one at the end of every chapter, for you to learn and regale your friends with. Here are a few examples from the VPC Study Guide (where there are 45 jokes in all, one at the end of every chapter!) Get your copy at!

Note: Unfortunately the Pinyin font is not on the Blogger list of fonts, so instead I’ve had to put the tone beside the pronunciation. In the VPC Study Guide and on the VPC website, we use the Pinyin font (which you can also download, along with the Chinese character fonts we used in the VPC Book, in the “Fonts” Section of the “Supplementary Materials”.


Riddle: (from: VPC Book/Study Guide Chapter 3)

Q: 世界上哪一種動物有最大的胸部?

Shi4jie4shang4 na3 yi4 zhong3 dong4wu4
you3 zui4 da4 de xiong1bu4?

Which of the world’s animal has the
largest breasts?

A: 斑馬 , 因為牠穿Z bra.

Ban1ma3, yin1wei4 ta1 chuan1 “Z bra”.

Zebra, because it wears a “Z” bra.


Riddle: (from: VPC Study Guide Chapter 9)

Q: 先有男生還是先有女生?

Xian1 you3 nan2sheng1 hai2shi4 xian1
You3 nv3sheng1?

Who came first, man or woman?

A: 男生, 因為他們都叫先生.

Nan2sheng1, yin1wei4 ta1men dou1
Jiao4 xian1sheng1.

Men – because they’re all called

Reason: xi1nsh9ng “Mister” literally
translates as xian1 先 (first)
sheng1生 (born)


Riddle: (from: VPC Study Guide Chapter 12)

Q: 什麼老鼠用兩隻腳走路?

Shen2me lao3shu3 yong4 liang3 zhi1
jiao3 zou3lu4?

Which mouse uses two legs to walk?

A: 米老鼠


Mickey Mouse

Q: 那麼, 什麼鴨子用兩隻腳走路?

Na4me, shen2me ya1zi yong4 liang3
zhi1 jiao3 zou3lu4?

So then, which duck uses two legs to

A: T2ngl3oy1 唐老鴨


Donald Duck

...笨, 全世界的鴨子都用兩隻腳走路!

…Ben4, quan2 shi4jie4 de ya1zi dou1
yong4 liang3 zhi1 jiao3 zou3lu4!

…Silly, all ducks use two legs to walk!


Taiwan is a multi-lingual society – most people are bilingual, speaking both Mandarin and Taiwanese (or Hakka, another common dialect in Taiwan), and many people of course speak English as well, making them trilingual! This may be the reason that many of their riddles and jokes are an inter-language play on words, often using two and sometimes three languages to make the joke!

Jokes are a fantastic way to better understand the culture of where you are! They’re great material for a language exchange – usually full of double entendres, slang, puns and cultural references. There’s a good chance you might not “get” a joke, even if you understand it word by word, literally. In that case, show your native speaking friend/language exchange partner. This will provide a good 20 minutes of conversation material as he or she explains it (hopefully in Chinese, but for harder to understand jokes a combination of English and Chinese might be necessary). While there are a few jokes you’ll never really get, for the most part you’ll find them amusing and clever, if not downright funny! And at the end of the day, you’re left with a great way to start a conversation, because when was the last time you said “No” when someone asked, “Hey! Do you want to hear a funny/silly/stupid joke?” Everyone likes jokes!