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I don't get this French joke
December 10, 2013 9:30 AM   Subscribe

A colleague of mine brought some candy back from France, and there are silly jokes written on the inside of the wrappers. Most of them are cute enough, but there's one that uses a word that I don't know and can't find a definition for. Is it just a nonsense word?

Here's the joke: Pourquoi le phoque se marre? Parce que l'ota rit! (l'otarie)

Translation: Why does the seal laugh? Because the [ota] laughs!

I get that l'ota rit (the [ota] laughs) sounds like l'otarie, (the sea lion), but is ota just a nonsense word here? Or am I missing something?
posted by spielzebub to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is l'ota perhaps loutre? i.e. otter?
posted by homodachi at 9:46 AM on December 10, 2013


Yeah, there's no word ota; it's just a play on otarie sounding like it ends with 'laughs.'
posted by languagehat at 9:47 AM on December 10, 2013


> Is l'ota perhaps loutre?

No.
posted by languagehat at 9:47 AM on December 10, 2013


I'm being told by a French coworker that it is slang. l'ota sounds a bit like l'autre
l'autre is "the other", because the other is laughing.
posted by gregjunior at 9:49 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh! I saw this on a wrapper a while ago and meant to ask the same question - I don't speak French though I recognise the odd word. I asked about it on Twitter at the time and it seemed it was indeed a rubbish pun.
posted by mippy at 9:55 AM on December 10, 2013


Gregjunior's French coworker verrrry nearly has it.

L'autre is often shortened in informal speech (spoken, not written) to l'aut, and a liaison with a verb that begins with R would also roughly be l'aut'rit.

However, it skips over the A: l'aut a rit = l'autre a rit = "the other one laughed" (past tense, not present)
posted by fraula at 9:56 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


This actually could work in English too, with equivalent herp-derp "d'oh" silliness:

Why did the seal laugh? Because the otter one did!
posted by fraula at 10:14 AM on December 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


... Because the otters did, too.
posted by progosk at 10:51 AM on December 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


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