…Ouch?on June 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm
For the record, the funny thing about most math jokes is that they either only work in print or they only word well when told orally. Some of you may notice that I might’ve spelled the operative word in the punchline “scaler” if I had been more concerned with the context of the subject and not the context of the joke. That was a conscious decision, but one I regret now that I think on it. The point is that the joke plays on the ambiguity of the pronunciation of the word and thus loses some of it’s consistency when forced into the far more specific written version of the language. The same can be said for a lot of word play, I suppose, but math jokes take it a tad further. Let me show you.
“There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don’t.”
A tad familiar, that one, but it illustrates a joke that is exceptionally hard to tell in person as it means determining whether the word “ten” is meant to convey the numerals one and zero in proximity, or whether it denotes a value measured in two groups of five theoretical objects. In reality, the human brain processes it as meaning both simultaneously, which is amazing but renders this joke entirely unusable at the dinner table. Here the type is charmingly ambiguous, and any attempt to vocalize the joke is a failure before it begins. Oh, and it gets worse.
“There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand hexadecimal and F, the rest.”
Notice we’ve already found the opening of this joke difficult to impossible to phonate, but now what of the punchline? WIth the proper spelling and punctuation as seen above, this part of the joke makes so much sense that you might mistake it for an excerpt from a computer science lecture. In fact, the only possible way to rectify this is to write out the latter half of the joke purely phonetically as below:
“There are 10 types of people in this world: those who understand hexadecimal and eff the rest.”
Even then the joke fails to capitalize on the core humor of invoking the eff-word, even with abbreviation. “Fuck” is nowhere near as funny in print as it is out loud. Go on. Try it. See?
So yeah, math jokes are hard.