CAIRO – 6 May 2017:In 2013, Edward Snowden reported that the NSA had been tapping approximately 5 billion cell phones worldwide. Egyptians had their own reaction to this news.
Known for their sense of humor and sarcasm, Egyptians are circulating messages, especially on the Whatsapp texting application, to mock a rumor about the Unites States tapping their phone calls.
Jokes use puns to play on people’s names called after animals, plants, etc. The punch line usually depends on poor, word for word translation of the Arabic text, neglecting connotations and cultural aspects of the translation process.
Some of the texts read the following:
A: Hello, Fatma, we’re visiting to ask for Zahra’s (flower) hand in marriage.
Translator: Mr. President, they marry plants! What do we do?
A: Ali, come over to my place with Diab (wolf), Sakr (falcon), Fahd (leopard) to play.
Translator: Sir, they play with wolves, leopards and falcons! What do we do?
A: Kahdijah, we will be there in a couple of minutes.
Translator: Sir, they are incredibly fast! They only need two minutes to get anything done!
A: Zeinab, I believe Om Khaled gave me an eye (expressing envy or the evil eye effect)
Translator: Sir, they exchange body organs without transplants! What do we do?
A: Hello, Om Waleed! We are sitting and strolling in the park.
Translator: Sir, they walk while sitting!
It is said that humor is Egyptians’ second nature and a means of subtle expression, venting, criticism and socialization.
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