Newspaper riddle

A black and white newspaper that is "read."

The newspaper riddle is a joke, a riddle or conundrum that begins with the question:[1]

Q: What is black and white and red all over?

The traditional answer, which relies upon the fact that the words "red" and "read" are homophones, is:[1][2]

A: A newspaper

Barrick[1] believes this riddle to be "perhaps the most common example of a folk riddle collected in the United States in the twentieth century", pointing out that between 1917 and 1939 it appeared in 15 collections of folk riddles, and in a further six between 1939 and 1974.

Chiaro[3] notes that it is, technically, impossible to translate this joke into languages other than English, pointing out that, for example, in French, Italian, and German the words "rouge", "rosso", and "rot" have no meaning other than "red" and do not possess homophones.

She points out, however, that it is possible to translate the intent of the joke, and to retain the invariant core of the colour red and the reference to a newspaper, by substituting a different riddle that relies upon metaphor, albeit that the homophonic play upon words is lost. She gives the following example in French, which relies upon the facts that L'Humanité is the newspaper of the French Communist Party, and that, as "red" has in English, "rouge" in French has political connotations of Communism:[3]

Q: Qu'est qui/Quel journal est tout rouge et noir et blanc?
A: L'Humanité

She also gives a similar example in Italian, this time using the newspaper of the Italian Communist Party, noting that in Italian the order of black and white is the reverse of that in English, since "nero e bianco" is a marked form, and that for prosodic naturalness "rosso" must come first:[3]

Q: Quale giornale è rosso, bianco e nero?
A: L'Unità

For German, she gives this example, which again requires the colour adjectives to be in a different order:[3]

Q: Was ist rot, schwarz und weiss?
A: Die tageszeitung

Alternative, mainly literal, answers to the riddle exist, that parody the canonical form of the riddle, including "an embarrassed (or a sunburned) zebra", "a chocolate sundae with ketchup on top", and "a crossword done in red ink".[4] Portnoy[5] describes these answers as "adequate, but not clever", because they lack any pun.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Mac E. Barrick (July – September 1974). "The Newspaper Riddle Joke". The Journal of American Folklore (American Folklore Society) 87 (345): 253–257. doi:10.2307/538740. JSTOR 538740. 
  2. ^ George Yule (1996). The Study of Language. Cambridge University Press. p. 122. ISBN 052156851X. 
  3. ^ a b c d Delia Chiaro (1992). The Language of Jokes: analysing verbal play. Routledge. pp. 92–93. ISBN 0415030900. 
  4. ^ New York Folklore Society (1945). New York Folklore Quarterly. Cornell University Press. p. 247. 
  5. ^ Phyllis Portnoy (2006). The Remnant: Essays on a Theme in Old English Verse. Runetree. p. 32. ISBN 1898577102. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Riddle — A riddle is a statement or question having a double or veiled meaning, put forth as a puzzle to be solved. Riddles are of two types: enigmas , which are problems generally expressed in metaphorical or allegorical language that require ingenuity… …   Wikipedia

  • riddle — riddle1 /rid l/, n., v., riddled, riddling. n. 1. a question or statement so framed as to exercise one s ingenuity in answering it or discovering its meaning; conundrum. 2. a puzzling question, problem, or matter. 3. a puzzling thing or person. 4 …   Universalium

  • riddle, puzzle, enigma — A riddle is a puzzling question or problem; a conundrum. The term is most often used in connection with problems expressed in words, obscure matters that can be clarified only by a guess: Plutarch wrote that Homer died of worry and chagrin… …   Dictionary of problem words and expressions

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach — Infobox University name = Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach Campus native name = image size = caption = latin name = motto = mottoeng = established = 1965 closed = type = Private affiliation = endowment = officer in charge =… …   Wikipedia

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — Infobox University name = Embry Riddle Aeronautical University motto = Leading the World in Aviation and Aerospace Education since 1926.cite book title = Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Visual Standards Manual publisher = Embry Riddle… …   Wikipedia

  • The Avion Newspaper — is the college newspaper of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, United States. The newspaper publishes weekly, and has a print circulation of approximately 4,000. The newspaper has a history dating back to Embry Riddle …   Wikipedia

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott — Infobox University name = Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott Campus native name = image size = caption = latin name = motto = mottoeng = established = 1978 closed = type = Private affiliation = endowment = officer in charge = chairman …   Wikipedia

  • List of newspaper comic strips M-Z — Parent article: List of comic strips; Siblings: A L • M Z M * M (2002 ) by Mads Eriksen (Norway) * Maakies (1995? ) by Tony Millionaire (USA) * Mac Divot (1955 1971) by Jordan Lansky and Mel Keefer (USA) * Madam and Eve (1992 ) by Stephen Francis …   Wikipedia

  • Tohby Riddle — is an Australian cartoonist and picture book creator. In 2005 he became editor of The School Magazine, in which his illustrations, non fiction pieces and poems appear regularly. History Tohby was born in Sydney, Australia, and has lived there… …   Wikipedia

  • List of newspaper comic strips A-L — Parent article: List of comic strips; Siblings: A L • M Z0 9* 13, rue de l espoir (1959 1972) by Paul Gillon, Jacques Gall and Francois Gall (France) * 9 Chickweed Lane (1993 ) by Brooke McEldowney (USA) * 9 to 5 (1990 ) by Harley Schwadron (USA) …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.