Old Irish joke

Here’s an Old Irish joke I found today that’s been translated into many languages, including Classical Nahuatl, Sanskrit and Cherokee.

Old Irish joke

This is the Modern Irish version:

Triúr manach a thug diúltú don saol.
Téann siad ins an fhásach chun aithrí a dhéanamh ina gcuid peacaí roimh Dhia.
Bhí siad gan labhairt lena chéile go ceann bliana.
Ansin dúirt fear díobh le fear eile bliain amháin ina dhiaidh sin, “Táimid go maith,” ar seisean.
Mar sin go ceann bliana.
“Is maith go deimhin,” arsa an dara fear.
Bhí siad ann ina dhiaidh sin go ceann bliana.
“Dar m’aibíd,” arsa an treas fear, “mura ligeann sibh ciúnas dom fágfaidh mé an fásach uile daoibh!”

And the English version:

Three monks turned their back on the world.
They went into the wilderness to repent their sins before God.
They did not speak to one another for a year.
At the end of the year, one of them spoke up and said, “We’re doing okay.”
Another year passed in silence.
“Yes we are,” said the second man.
And so another year passed.
“I swear by my robe,” said the third man, “if you two don’t be quiet I’m out of here!”

There is also background information about the joke in English, Irish, French, Spanish and a number of other languages, and even a recording of it in Old Irish (mp3).

8 thoughts on “Old Irish joke

  1. Hi Simon & All. A word of warning from the guy who created the site, namely me: the Cherokee translation is *very iffy*. The other native American language translations were done by native speakers and/or expert scholars. The Cherokee was an amateur job. If anyone out there has access to a Cherokee native speaker or scholar, please pass the word on! Thanks.

  2. I wonder what’s the Irish version of: two monks can live on one rug, but two kings cannot live in one kingdom!

  3. Is féidir le beirt mhanach ruga amháin a chomhroinnt, ach ní féidir le beirt rí ríocht amháin a chomhroinnt! – It’s possible for two monks to share a rug, but it’s not possible for two kings to share one kingdom.

    Thanks for the joke, Simon!

  4. How do you know the Cherokee was amateur? While I’m not fluent, I learned Cherokee as a child. I didn’t read it yet, but I will get on it as soon as I get a chance. (I don’t read the Cherokee alphabet too well)

  5. @ formiko — I know because the translator told me so. He has made a number of efforts to get some expert help — review and correction — and has encountered a stone wall. The Cherokee crowd seems to be very … uh … unforthcoming. Here’s the Roman alphabet transcription:

    Tsoi Analitsadohvsgi

    Saquu iyuwagedi tsoi analitsadohvsgi unihiyv’i wunukdv elohi.
    Unisganvtsv etsidoligidi unadulvhv’i, sginh’yusd’ adohihi unenvsv’i.
    Sudetiyvdano hla yidanadawonisv’i.
    Nasgino na igvyi’i alitsadohvsgi “Idosda” udvhne.
    Soino sudetiyvda akaliwohi tlonudvhna gesvi.
    Nahnv taline’i “V, idosda” udvhne.
    Asiqueno soi sudetiyvda tonudvhna gesvi.
    “Eliquu!!” na tsoine’i udvhne. “Eluwei aquaduliha ganigisgesdisi!”

  6. I still love this joke. Jiddu Krishnamurti told a version of it set in the Himalayan mountains. Evidently, it has very broad appeal!

    Thanks for sharing the Old Irish recording.

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