A listener has been baffled for years by a riddle told a German friend. It goes, “What’s the difference between a frog? Answer: The greener it is, the faster it swims.” It’s an example of an antiwitz or “anti-joke,” a popular form of German humor that has the structure of a traditional joke, but involves absurd imagery and lacks a satisfying punchline. In China, a similarly silly type of humor goes by a name that translates as “cold joke.” This is part of a complete episode.
- Hair on Your Tongue (episode #1517) 02/11/2019: If you speak both German and Spanish, you may find yourself reaching for a German word instead of a Spanish one, and vice versa. This... [more]
- Train of Thought (episode #1516) 02/04/2019: Chances are you recognize the expressions Judgment Day and root of all evil as phrases from the Bible. There are many others, such as the... [more]
- Colonial English (episode #1515) 01/28/2019: The anatomy of effective prose, and the poetry of anatomy. Ever wonder what it'd be like to audit a class taught by a famous writer?... [more]
- Space Cadet (episode #1514) 12/24/2018: We have books for language-lovers and recommendations for history buffs. • How did the word boondoggle come to denote a wasteful project? The answer involves... [more]
- Howling Fantods (episode #1513) 12/17/2018: Are there words and phrases that you misunderstood for an embarrassingly long time? Maybe you thought that money laundering literally meant washing drug-laced dollar bills,... [more]