Folk Speech – Germany


Ich glaube mein Affe humpelt.


Iche glao beh mine ahfa hoom pilt.

Literal translation:

I believe my monkey is hobbling.

Metaphoric meaning:

Whatever you said is completely proposterous.

The informant heard this phrase often in Germany where he lived with a host family for a couple of years. His host mother spoke of a lot of phrases that only her generation would use and perhaps understand. The informant found it incredibly amusing the first time he heard it and wondered what hobbling monkeys had to do with anything.

My analysis would be, symbolically speaking, monkeys usually represent craziness, fun and goofiness. In this case, the hobbling monkey refers to a proposterous situation, much like saying “The pigs will fly”. As if monkeys aren’t enough, toss in hobbling monkeys and one would have an imagery with total displacement. Displacement is what makes a lot of jokes work. Much like the kangaroo in a bar example, there’s just something humorousely random about hobbling monkeys. So much so that it’s proposterous, exactly as the phrase implies.