Tag Archives: wordplay

No Eye Deer

“What do you call a deer with no eyes?

No eye-deer [spoken like “idea” with a drawling a that ends in an r].”

 

The informant learned this and other jokes (most of them he claimed to be especially bad, and possibly prized for their cringe-worthiness), during band camp when he was an undergraduate, (he was introduced to many of them in his freshman year. The informant said that telling jokes is part of the ritual of band camp, partly to foster camaraderie and boost morale, and partially to evade boredom on buss trips. He said you had to tell jokes because “you can only drink so much on a bus trip.”

This particular joke holds no specific significance for the informant, but is representative of the types of jokes he remembers.

This joke, and the group of jokes of a similar type that it comes from, seems to have a universal hold on different age groups. It’s extremely similar to the types of jokes that might be told at a camp for youths. Word play is as understandable to adults as it is to children, and the frequency of the retelling of these kinds of jokes suggests that English speakers (and perhaps speakers of other languages as well) find humor in the manipulation of speech, which is such an ordinary part of life. This works with surprise to create humor.

Korean Wordplay

  • Me – It’s weird (or “Teeth will rot”).
  • X – Then go to a dentist.

My informant claims he had created this joke himself.  Nonetheless when he used it on others, they were not surprised saying they have heard the joke before.  Perhaps he did originally think of the joke but others also thought of it simultaneously.  This joke is a play on words.  To say, “It’s weird,” in Korean uses the exact same wording as saying, “Teeth will rot.”  He thought of the joke when he misinterpreted his wife.  While she was stating that something was weird, he took it as her saying that she had a toothache.  Without paying close attention, he advised her to go to the dentist.  Upon hearing such an arbitrary piece of advice, his wife understood his misinterpretation and laughed at him.  Ever since then, which was about a decade ago, he tells a person to go to a dentist if he or she says something is weird.

“It’s weird” and “Teeth will rot” are not just similar; they sound and are spelled exactly the same way.  It is easy to see why someone may accidentally misinterpret the two meanings.  Misinterpretations can be hilarious, so it is not wonder this turned into a joke with several people thinking of it at the same time.