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I detect a Ubangi in the fuel supply.

Russian translation: что-то не то

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:I detect a Ubangi in the fuel supply.
Russian translation:что-то не то
Entered by: Robert Donahue
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20:18 Jun 29, 2005
English to Russian translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Cinema, Film, TV, Drama
English term or phrase: I detect a Ubangi in the fuel supply.
An often quoted phrase from W.C. Fields, an american comic artist. A Ubangi, as I understand, is a politically incorrect name for the African, but the overall meaning of the phrase eludes me.
Andriy Kostenko
something's not right (что-то не то?)
Explanation:
il ragno01-31-03, 04:11
John Ford? I'd no idea he apologized to anyone.

WC Fields' will made provisions for large donation to found a white children's orphanage in his name (a fact now routinely deleted from 99% of all published bios, or caponized simply to 'orphanage', but routinely noted in every pre-PC bio of the Great Man). Often refers to blacks as 'Ubangis' in his films, esp YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN - he even calls Rochester the 'head Ubangi' in one scene; later mutters a reference to "a Ubangi in the fuel supply", a great line. Fond of gag - oft repeated - of turning around, unexpectedly seeing black guy standing behind him and shouting in startled fright as his hat flies off his head spontaneously. In THE BANK DICK, brags of his career in movies working for "Abie and Milton". Most contemporary Fields-film reviews warn viewers of 'racist humor'. Fields' deep-South comedy MISSISSIPPI so rife with race humor it is rarely if ever shown. Even many diehard Fields fans have never seen it.

http://www.louisville.edu/~kprayb01/WCWords.html
Ubangi--African river. Fields referred to an African tribe by this name in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man and My Little Chickadee.


Here's a possible explanation...

As W.C.Fields would say "A Ubangi in the Fuel Supply!"
...when it dawns on you that the wetness you feel
on your back ISN'T RAIN after all!

So maybe it's something along the lines of "something's rotten in Denmark". Hard to say.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 6 hrs 12 mins (2005-06-30 02:30:38 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

There are other (even more offensive ways) to translate this expression. The essential meaning is that there is something not right at work, a hidden, evil influence so to speak.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 15 hrs 12 mins (2005-06-30 11:31:07 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

W.C. Fields was, as was common then, unafraid of using racist humor. \"Ubangi\" here is Mr. Field\'s term for a black guy. An \"Ubangi\" in the fuel supply means that something has gone wrong and that there was some evil intent involved. As you know, it\'s difficult to explain a joke and keep it funny. It\'s also hard to explain a joke that most people nowadays would find extremely offensive. Suffice to say that back in the 20\'s and 30\'s this type of stuff was considered funny and combined with Field\'s delivery even moreso.
Selected response from:

Robert Donahue
Grading comment
Thank you Robert. Your private letter was most helpful. I apologize if the subject of my question was offensive to anyone.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
2 +3something's not right (что-то не то?)Robert Donahue


  

Answers


12 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 2/5Answerer confidence 2/5 peer agreement (net): +3
i detect a ubangi in the fuel supply.
something's not right (что-то не то?)


Explanation:
il ragno01-31-03, 04:11
John Ford? I'd no idea he apologized to anyone.

WC Fields' will made provisions for large donation to found a white children's orphanage in his name (a fact now routinely deleted from 99% of all published bios, or caponized simply to 'orphanage', but routinely noted in every pre-PC bio of the Great Man). Often refers to blacks as 'Ubangis' in his films, esp YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN - he even calls Rochester the 'head Ubangi' in one scene; later mutters a reference to "a Ubangi in the fuel supply", a great line. Fond of gag - oft repeated - of turning around, unexpectedly seeing black guy standing behind him and shouting in startled fright as his hat flies off his head spontaneously. In THE BANK DICK, brags of his career in movies working for "Abie and Milton". Most contemporary Fields-film reviews warn viewers of 'racist humor'. Fields' deep-South comedy MISSISSIPPI so rife with race humor it is rarely if ever shown. Even many diehard Fields fans have never seen it.

http://www.louisville.edu/~kprayb01/WCWords.html
Ubangi--African river. Fields referred to an African tribe by this name in You Can't Cheat an Honest Man and My Little Chickadee.


Here's a possible explanation...

As W.C.Fields would say "A Ubangi in the Fuel Supply!"
...when it dawns on you that the wetness you feel
on your back ISN'T RAIN after all!

So maybe it's something along the lines of "something's rotten in Denmark". Hard to say.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 6 hrs 12 mins (2005-06-30 02:30:38 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

There are other (even more offensive ways) to translate this expression. The essential meaning is that there is something not right at work, a hidden, evil influence so to speak.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 15 hrs 12 mins (2005-06-30 11:31:07 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

W.C. Fields was, as was common then, unafraid of using racist humor. \"Ubangi\" here is Mr. Field\'s term for a black guy. An \"Ubangi\" in the fuel supply means that something has gone wrong and that there was some evil intent involved. As you know, it\'s difficult to explain a joke and keep it funny. It\'s also hard to explain a joke that most people nowadays would find extremely offensive. Suffice to say that back in the 20\'s and 30\'s this type of stuff was considered funny and combined with Field\'s delivery even moreso.

Robert Donahue
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thank you Robert. Your private letter was most helpful. I apologize if the subject of my question was offensive to anyone.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Will Matter: Given that we've now determined & mutually confirmed the underlying meaning your answer is correct and acceptable.
5 hrs
  -> Thanks Will. I regret to say that I do.

agree  Andrey Kostenko: Yes I've read all those references on the web, but could you explain the humour of the phrase. Why a Ubangi? Why in the fuel supply? Just what's so funny about this combination?
11 hrs
  -> Thanks...this is unusual Andrey. Are you the same guy who posted the question? I'll try to explain a little more above. If not it might require an e-mail since the whole thing is pretty offensive.

agree  xxxgtreyger
21 hrs
  -> Thanks Gennadiy.
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Changes made by editors
Jun 30, 2005 - Changes made by Robert Donahue:
LevelNon-PRO » PRO


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