The Impossible Men and the Rabbit

“Nekoč so šle trije počaci.

Eden je bil slep,

Drugi je bil nag,

Treti je bil hrom.

Slepi je zajca videl,

Hromi ga je ujel,

Nagi ga je pod srajso del.”


“There once went three together slowly –

One was blind,

The second was naked,

The third was lame.

The Blind one saw a rabbit,

the Lame one caught it,

and the Naked one put it under his shirt.”

Born and raised in former Yugoslavia, what is now known as Slovenia, the informant was continuously exposed to folk traditions that originated and permeated this region. The informant knows very little about the origins of this joke, but he compares them to many of popular self-contradictory English limericks, such as “One bright day in the middle of the night . . . ” The translation into English really tarnishes its humor, as the cadence of the joke is broken. The rhyme scheme is also distroyed as the punchline of the original joke cleverly rhymes with the line before it. Slovenian also has this incredible quality of succinctness, whereby a speaker can use an adjective, such as “lame” or “blind,” and turn it into a noun, generating much of humor from this reductive address (i.e. a man who is naked becomes simply “the Naked”).