Cheap Translation Joke of the Day


Bill Maher, on Arnold Schwarzenegger:

Finally, a candidate who can explain the Bush administration's positions on civil liberties in the original German.

Though Maher might have been lifting material from his pal Ann Coulter. Asked by New York Magazine recently what she?d do if named editor of the New York Times, the treason expert replied:

Offer a daily version in the original French.


NEXT: I Was In Prison, and Ye Visited Me Not

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Does this mean Maher plagurized the joke ?

    Or is just an unfunny hack…

  2. Seems to me I’ve heard it before–from Mort Sahl, maybe?

  3. Yes, it goes back at least to Mort Saul, or else he’s been stealing material from Molly Ivens. (Now there’s a depressing thought.) I saw Saul use the gag on one of his rare, recent year TV appearances (Letterman, I think) but I vaguely recall the line from years earlier.

  4. Sahl, that is… having a “senior moment, bad typing fingers” day

  5. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.



    Republicans as Nazis. How original!

    Holy shit. I nearly peed myself laughing.

    Where’s Maher come up with this stuff? It’s amazing.

    Who’s his writer? Arriana Huffington?

    Gotta stop. Ribs hurt.

  6. You are amused easily.

    Ahnuld iz Austrian.

  7. A German friend of mine recently related that Arnolds German language skills are almost non-existant, then went on with the following joke you’ll love if you are German (which I’m sure you all are):

    ‘Austrians are good at only one thing: convincing people Hitler was german and mozart was austrian…but I digress


  8. Ah-nod should regale debate audiences with his best line from two movies: “Fuck you, asshole!”

    And BTW, does “Schwarzenneger” mean in German, uh, what it sounds like?

  9. Pretty sure it was Ivins who made this joke first, in connection with Pat Buchanan as noted above.

  10. Well “schwartz” means “black” as in Schwartzkopf which means “blackhead.” But the second part? There my German 202 fails me.

  11. Schwarzennegar does seem to be derived from the combination of the accustative form of ‘Schwarz’ which means black, and the world Neger, which does mean a black person and is translated as negro. So, a possible translation of his name could be Black Negro. However, I have seen names similar to Schwarzenneger in German name books that contain etymologies relating the name to the position of dying cloth. In this sense, Schwarzen can be seen as the verb ‘to blacken’ or ‘to color’.

  12. So this quote must have been smuggled out of one of AssKKKrofts AmeriKKKan gulags by some brave soul.

  13. Hey. Maher actually said something funny!

    An adminstration that gives us odd, vaguely teutonic terms like “homeland” deserves a ribbing or two.

    (Being fluent in American English for nearly 32 years, I’d never heard the word “homeland” used in a sentence until the last couple years. Americans don’t have a “homeland” dammit. We’re citizens – we don’t spring from some native soil).

  14. This is a variation on a joke told on Pat Buchanan after his much-maligned culture-war speech in 1992. I can’t remember who said it first: It was often attributed to Molly Ivins, but I strongly suspect she was repeating a line she heard elsewhere.

  15. The joke is eleven years old:

    August 1992, Republican National Convention:
    “…the Republicans spent much of their time peddling fear and loathing, but it was more silly than scary, like watching people dressed in bad Halloween werewolf costumes…Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan’s speech; it probably sounded better in the original German.” — Molly Ivins, 1992

    It was subsequently ripped off all over the place. I remember seeing really unfunny pols tell it on Maher’s show and others (one night, I swear, I saw it on three shows, Politically Incorrect, Larry King and maybe Letterman, the last two times told by people with no sense of timing who said it as if they were REALLY excited because someone had handed them a line and they wanted to make sure they got it right. It was a great line in the hands of fools–a sword handled by armless midgets. Tragic. Clearly, he thought it was old enough to recycle, like bell bottoms.

    Neither he — and certainly not a hack like Ann Coulter — are original. There is a certain charm in Coulter unwittingly using a line from a liberal and considerably more talented columnist like Ivins. Maybe she’s a fan…

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.