Вы слыхали, Петров-то — амбидекстр!

English translation: See explanation below

12:19 May 9, 2018
Russian to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Idioms / Maxims / Sayings / Joke
Russian term or phrase: Вы слыхали, Петров-то — амбидекстр!
Can someone please explain why the following joke is meant to be funny, I really don't get it:

— Вы слыхали, Петров-то — амбидекстр!
— Ктооооо???
— Петров!

Thanks in advance :)
Nicky Brown
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:01
English translation:See explanation below
Explanation:
I'm a native Russian speaker, and even I don't see the humor in this joke, although I do see how it's intended to be funny. It's the type of joke for pre-teenage kids. In English you's say
- Did you know Petrov is an ambidexter?
- A whaaat?
.....
And here goes the downfall, because the grammar is too different. First of all, Russian doesn't use articles, so throw away the 'A' in '- A whaaat?'
Secondly, the 'what' in 'A whaaat' is synonymous with 'who' in Russian. They're both the same word = 'Кто?'
It may sound better if you used an animal instead of a person. Never mind how ridictulous this sounds. It's meant only to demonstrate the meaning. So, pretend you'd have something like the dialogue below:

- Did you know that I have a cat who is an ambidexter?
- A whaaat?
- A cat.

Now factor in that these are kids (or someone completely ignorant), who has no idea what an ambidexter (insert any other complex word here) is. They think it may possible mean something bad, or shameful perhaps. So the response 'A whaat?' refers to the 'ambidexter', whereas the initial speaker, who is familiar with the complex word, is talking about the cat and just reiterates this in their reply. Get it? ;)
Selected response from:

Dmitry Ostrozhskiy
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:01
Grading comment
Thanks again, Dmitry, I really appreciate it.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +1See explanation below
Dmitry Ostrozhskiy
4 +2кто? is a viable response for both "what?" and "who"
Mikhail Kropotov
Summary of reference entries provided
в чем смысл шутки "петров амбидекстр. кто? петров"
Oleg Lozinskiy

Discussion entries: 14





  

Answers


1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
кто? is a viable response for both "what?" and "who"


Explanation:
The second person does not know what амбидекстр means. Because амбидекстр is a noun in Russian, their response means "He's a who?", shortened to "Who?" But it is understood by the first person as "who are you talking about / what's that person's name again?".

A literal translation into English doesn't work because ambidextrous is an adjective, not a noun, and therefore the second person would never reply "Who?". I'll keep thinking of a way to word it so that the humor comes across.

And yes, it is indeed a very funny joke and one of my favorites.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2018-05-09 14:27:02 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I think the grammar aspect may be the key to solving this translation riddle. We are looking for a noun, not an adjective, that will raise most people's eyebrows when they hear it. It doesn't have to be related to dexterity at all. However, it does need to be at least remotely, err, relevant, so that one person could realistically share such a piece of information with another. Please stay tuned while I look for a suitable candidate :)

P.S. Please bear with me, and sorry for persisting in this. Localizing jokes is a hobby that I take more seriously than most :)

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2018-05-09 15:16:22 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

How about bibliophile?

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 1 day 3 hrs (2018-05-10 16:14:24 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

"Did you know Sarah is a bibliophile?"
"Who?"
"Sarah!"

Are you sure this doesn't work? At least in the US, I've often heard folks casually say "who?" in reference to things, not people.

Mikhail Kropotov
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:01
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in category: 63
Notes to answerer
Asker: Thank you so much for how much thought you have given this, but I can't see how either "bibliophile" or "arachnophobe" would work. Neither solves the problem of translating "кто"...

Asker: I don't know about US English, but it definitely doesn't work in UK English. The quuestion would be either "Who??" or "A what??", removing all ambiguity.


Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Victoria Batarchuk: Maybe, the word can be replaced with not "bibliophil", but smth. like "arachnophobe". 🙂
20 hrs

agree  Andrew Vdovin
5 days
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5 days   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
See explanation below


Explanation:
I'm a native Russian speaker, and even I don't see the humor in this joke, although I do see how it's intended to be funny. It's the type of joke for pre-teenage kids. In English you's say
- Did you know Petrov is an ambidexter?
- A whaaat?
.....
And here goes the downfall, because the grammar is too different. First of all, Russian doesn't use articles, so throw away the 'A' in '- A whaaat?'
Secondly, the 'what' in 'A whaaat' is synonymous with 'who' in Russian. They're both the same word = 'Кто?'
It may sound better if you used an animal instead of a person. Never mind how ridictulous this sounds. It's meant only to demonstrate the meaning. So, pretend you'd have something like the dialogue below:

- Did you know that I have a cat who is an ambidexter?
- A whaaat?
- A cat.

Now factor in that these are kids (or someone completely ignorant), who has no idea what an ambidexter (insert any other complex word here) is. They think it may possible mean something bad, or shameful perhaps. So the response 'A whaat?' refers to the 'ambidexter', whereas the initial speaker, who is familiar with the complex word, is talking about the cat and just reiterates this in their reply. Get it? ;)

Dmitry Ostrozhskiy
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:01
Specializes in field
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thanks again, Dmitry, I really appreciate it.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Andrew Vdovin
6 hrs
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Reference comments


10 mins peer agreement (net): +3
Reference: в чем смысл шутки "петров амбидекстр. кто? петров"

Reference information:
Анжелика Костнер Ученик (96), Вопрос на голоcовании 4 года назад
Что-то я не понимаю. В чем смысл анекдота:
-Ты слышал, что Петров амбидекстр?
-Кто?
-Петров.

Мария Мазаева 4 года назад
Мастер (1333)
Ну там собеседник спрашивает, имея в виду, кто такой амбидекстр, а первый думает, что тот переспрашивает. Понятно объяснила?))
https://otvet.mail.ru/question/166826975

Oleg Lozinskiy
Russian Federation
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian

Peer comments on this reference comment (and responses from the reference poster)
agree  James Duncan: In other words, the questioner is unfamiliar with the word 'амбидекстр' and interprets it as being a surname.
6 mins
  -> Thank you, James.
agree  Vladyslav Golovaty: yes, Ambidexter or Bosun, little difference, notwithstanding that it is a surname:)
45 mins
  -> Thank you, Vladys.
agree  Mikhail Kropotov: No, James, he does not interpret it as being a surname.
1 hr
  -> Thank you, Mikhail.
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