Author Archives: Tiffany Chang


“Where do Jews with ADD go?” –a Concentration Camp

Benjamin first heard this joke from a friend and retold it in a group of college students.  He says that it is funny just because people with this disorder have difficulty concentrating.  He has no further interpretation of this joke, only to say that jokes about Jews are offensively funny.

Although the Jews went through a lot of suffering during the Holocaust, the Jewish people are still criticized to this day.  The humor from this joke comes from the double meaning of the “concentration camp.”  On one hand, it is the camp that the Germans sent the Jews in order to separate them.  On the other hand, the concentration camp can be the literal meaning in that it is a camp where people concentrate.  Therefore, people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which is a disorder in which one has a short attention span, should attend this camp so that they can focus.  This blason populaire joke, which is a joke that makes fun of a certain group, is very popular in evoking humor.  Though offensive, many people laugh with guilt because they know that it is insulting but still is a play on words.  This joke not only makes fun of the Jewish people but also the mentally challenged group.  Some people find humor in the faults of others; in this case, not being able to concentrate is the fault.  A combination of the Jews and the mentally challenged compounds the humor of this joke.

This joke was told in English and is from the American culture.  Americans find other people’s problems humorous, and the ones who dare to tell the joke risk being rude and offensive to certain groups, especially the Jewish and the mentally incapable.  The American culture tends to live in the present, not caring about what happened in the past and ignoring the innate anomalies of human genes.  This joke’s humor is based on making fun of other groups, as well as a double meaning of the place “concentration camp,” which can be taken literally or historically.  In any case, the joke can only be told in front of people who are tolerant of racism and prejudice.

Legend – Hawaii

When Hawaii was still being established, each individual island had a king. King Kamehameha had a large army and decided to unify all the islands.  Legend has it that he cornered people on the Pali mountain ridge until they eventually fell off the cliff.  Therefore, nobody on the island dares to upset King Kamehameha or else they know that they will suffer great consequences.

Along with many superstitions, there is always a legend behind it.  Jillian remembered this legend after telling the superstition of never bringing pork over the Pali.  She says that the Hawaiians never want to upset the gods, and King Kamehameha is the King of all the islands.  He helped the Hawaiians unite together as one island rather than many small islands.  The Pali ridge is a dangerous place that people drive over to reach the other side of the island.  King Kamehameha veered people off the cliff with ease when he was angry at them.  Because of his great power over the island, the Hawaiians always obey his commands and never question the curses that are believed.

Although the Hawaiians have several gods that they believe in, this story is a legend because King Kamehameha actually did exist, but this story is not necessarily true.  A legend is a narrative set in real time that make it realistic.  It is possible for him to actually force people off the cliff, and the Hawaiians believe it as a true story.  The islands are also very tempestuous in that any kind of weather can happen if their ancestors are angry.  Thus, making the King happy is a vital part of their everyday lives.  The Hawaiians also seem to value unity, so much that keeping the islands together is a reason for them to praise King Kamehameha.  In addition, their superstitious attitudes towards keeping him happy are widely accepted.  The people simply follow the rules, do not question them, and do not stray away from them, hoping that they will not upset the King.

Myth – Korean

Korean: ??? ??? ?? ??? ?? ??? ???. ??? ??? ??? ??? ?? ???? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??? ? ? ???? ??? ???. ??? 100??? ??? ?? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?? ??? ??? ?????, ???? ??? ??? ??? ?? ???. ? ??? ?? ?? ??? ???, ?? ??? ? ??? ???? ??? ???. ? ??? ?? ??? ?? ????.

Translation: Korea’s creation myth came from a bear and a tiger who wished to become humans.  They went to the heavenly prince for help, who told them to stay in the cave and eat garlic and mugworts for a hundred days.  The tiger could not stand being in the cave on a restricted diet, but the bear prevailed and turned into a human woman.  She had one more wish to marry someone, so she married the heavenly prince and established the Korean nation.

This myth was first heard from her grandmother around the age of seven.  Janet says that this myth was how the population of Korea started.  The moral of the story is to teach the importance of being patient, especially if a certain goal is desired.  In order for the bear and the tiger to achieve their dream of becoming humans, they need to follow the words of the wise.  Janet interprets this myth as a way to teach children to behave, following the footsteps of their ancestors.  Being from Korea, she grew up with these myths, but never realized the importance of learning these virtues from her grandmother.

Every culture has a creation myth to explain where the people came from.  In Korea, it involves mythological creatures who turn from animals to humans.  Mugworts, which is a plant used as a flavoring addition in Korean foods, especially to create a green color in rice cakes.  Only being able to eat garlic and mugworts is a symbol of perseverance, since only eating these two items is torturous.  The Koreans are very unwavering in all their endeavors, and this myth shows the origins of their personality.

The creation myth is an example of a polygenesis approach towards a story.  There is one beginning from which all the Korean people believe they came from, but this is similar to the Western myth of Adam and Eve, a story in which all humankind comes from.  There are multiple stories about beginnings all around the world to explain the origin of man, and this creation myth is just one explanation of human existence.

Superstition – Hawaii

Never take any lava rocks or black sand away from the island.

Jillian learned this superstition as she was growing up in Hawaii from the other children at school.  Though she is not of Hawaiian “blood” herself, she was born and raised in its culture, so she identifies herself as Hawaiian.  She said that it is known that lava rocks or black sand should not be taken away from the island, or else bad things will happen to that person.  Pele, the volcano goddess, will be angry because taking the lava is synonymous to taking part of her away from the island.  Jillian claims that when people take rocks away from the island, they ship it back to Hawaii because of the bad luck that comes with it.

The Hawaiian culture firmly believes in the island gods and goddesses who control the islands.  If a native or visitor does not please them, then it is understood that they will have bad luck.  Pele is the volcano goddess, so the lava rocks and black sand are considered part of her being.  Taking away any of the remnants of the volcano is taking her away from her home and terribly upsetting.  The Hawaiians always want to please the gods and make sure that they are always obeying them for good luck.  This superstition also shows the pride that Hawaiians have for their island.  Like Pele, the people of the islands do not want to be taken away from their homeland either.

The superstition that bad luck will happen through a certain action is very common in Hawaiian culture.  Hawaii has a very unique and tightly knit culture that believes in all of these myths.  These mythological figures are directly connected to the superstitions, which work because the people do not want to upset the gods.  They think that as long as the gods are happy, then the people are safe from harm.  The informant strongly believes that these beliefs are true and accepts it as a rule not take volcanic ruins away from the island.

Tradition – Chinese

After a mother has a baby, she is not allowed to shower or leave the house for a month.  After the baby has survived the first month, there is a welcoming party.

Karena does not believe in this tradition because she finds that it is extremely difficult to stay at home for an entire month with a baby.  She limits her outgoings to a bare minimum, letting other people do her grocery shopping and errands.  However, she thinks that this tradition was started in the early days when there it was not safe for women to leave the house during the first month of birth.  In fact, she learned from her mother-in-law that they were not even supposed to shower because they did not have blow dryers.  Her mother-in-law, who is a first generation Chinese, said that leaving the house with the hair wet will cause the mother to get sick and not be able to take care of the baby.

Keeping a baby healthy is important in the Chinese culture, especially when technology was not advanced as it is now.  Before, they had to be extremely cautious with their newborns because they did not have any western medicine to cure diseases and colds.  So, the mother is protected by having this tradition of not showering or leaving the house.  In this day and age, this tradition is ignored by Chinese-Americans, yet is still common in undeveloped areas.  The lack of showering is out of the question for Americans, but staying in the house for a month is still frequently followed.  The mother should be resting and taking care of the baby; leaving the house would be deemed unnecessary.  After a month, the Chinese throw a party to celebrate the child’s birth.  This is often believed to be a tradition because in the olden days, the babies did not always survive the first month.  If it did survive, then it was believed that they were healthy enough to live a long and prosperous life, which is a reason enough to celebrate.  During this party, the baby is dressed up in its best clothes and presented to the parents’ family and friends.  This party is to remember a baby’s rite of passage into the real world after its birth.

By keeping the baby and the mother safe, the Chinese can ensure a safe life and then celebrate the baby’s birth.