Schabat Schalom14 Sep 2004
NDRInfo, our regional news radio station, runs a Jewish culture program on Fridays called Schabat Schalom. Last week (or was it the week before) they had a nice talk on bi- and multi-lingual puns. Plays on words always involve some sort of secret knowledge to get the joke, and if you have to explain yourself, the joke is lost. For example, I titled my last post on the Tower of Light tribute in NYC Leuchtturm ("lighthouse"), which breaks down into "light" and "tower". Only a non-native speaker of German would think of calling the tribute a Leuchtturm, and now that I've explained it, the humor is gone...
Anyway, the rabbi last week explained how "sabos" were the course wooden shoes of early industrial workers in France, and when they would protest their poor working conditions by stuffing their shoes into the machines, they were committing "sabotage". In the same way, the sabbath forces our hectic way of life to come to a halt for at least one day a week, a form of "Schabat-tage". And if you choose to celebrate the sabbath by buying expensive Italian olive-oil bread, you then have "Ciabat-tage", which if you pronounce Italian poorly enough sounds nearly the same.
A French-English-Hebrew-Italian pun, told in German. I was impressed.