I have a joke, but …

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A new (?) joke-rhetoric pattern has appeared recently on twitter, e.g.

…and so on ad infinitum…


  1. Sniffnoy said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 1:44 pm

    Old example of roughly this (no idea where it might have originated): I'd tell you a UDP joke, but you might not get it.

  2. Roscoe said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 2:02 pm

    This is actually the second wave of a joke format that appeared all over Twitter back in July.

  3. Philip Taylor said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 2:02 pm

    "UDP" as in "Ulster Democratic Party" or some other meaning ?

  4. Sniffnoy said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 2:05 pm

    Philip Taylor: No, this UDP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_Datagram_Protocol

  5. Philip Taylor said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 2:33 pm

    Ah. Thank you. Not an abbreviation with which I am unfamiliar, but certainly not the first meaning to come to mind when encountering "UDP" in the context of a joke …

  6. David Morris said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 2:59 pm

    About six months ago, I said on Facebook, 'If I tell you a joke about coronavirus, you might not get it'. Unfortunately one did (but has now recovered).

  7. David Cameron Staples said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 4:00 pm

    The Networking protocol jokes come as a set.

    1) I'd tell you a joke about UDP, but you might not get it.

    (Because UDP sends packets, but doesn't check to see if they were received.)

    2) Do you want to hear a joke about TCP?
    Yes, I want to hear a joke about TCP.
    I have a joke about TCP.
    Please tell me your joke about TCP.
    My joke about TCP has a lead up, and a punchline.
    OK. I am expecting to hear a lead up and a punchline.
    I am ready to tell you my joke about TCP.
    I am ready to hear your joke about TCP.




    (TCP does check to see that every packet is received. Exhaustively. And sometimes the failure mode is that one end drops and the other end just keeps trying to reestablish the connection until it times out or the world ends.)

  8. Josh said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 4:07 pm

    I keep thinking about how much this format has in common with the Tom Swifty.

  9. Philip Anderson said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 4:15 pm

    It’s definitely an old format, albeit with new twists. I heard a joke about butter years ago, unfortunately I can’t tell you because you might spread it.

  10. Gregory Kusnick said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 4:41 pm

    I have a truly marvelous math joke, but the margin is too small to contain it.

  11. Philip Taylor said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 4:43 pm

    David CS — At around the same time that TCP/IP was battling for dominance with the ISO 7-level model, I had to specify the protocol between a DIAD ("Digital Image Analysis ") system and a VAX/VMS system (and write the VAX/VMS side of things). I thought that my protocol was as simple as it reasonably could be ("Are you there ?" / "Yes, I'm here" / "Will you accept a command" / "Yes, I will accept a command" / / ) but my counterpart on the DIAD side of things still thought it was too complicated and that we could safely leave out the "Are you there ?" phase. He may well have been right, but we kept it in, and all worked satisfactorily for the life of the DIAD system.

  12. Viseguy said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 6:10 pm

    Wasn't Fermat the father of all "I have a ____, but I can't ____" formulators?

  13. ohwilleke said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 6:52 pm

    Sort of off topic. Seen on Facebook today:

    "If Thieves wear Sneakers and Artists wear Skechers. Do Linguists wear Converse?"

  14. John Shutt said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 8:36 pm

    "Give me a place to stand, and I will move the world." — Archimedes.

  15. Jerry Friedman said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 8:36 pm

    David Morris: I told that one too. The first time I remember hearing it, it was about Ebola. In a quick search, I see that back to 2014.

  16. D-AW said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 8:56 pm

    Guys! I actually do have a real joke about languagelog! …uh, but in your idiolect can "guys" be used gender-non-specifically in this way to address a large audience of unknown but presumably varied gender identity?

  17. Viseguy said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 9:21 pm

    @Gregory Kusnick: I posted a Fermat quip, but I see now that you had already occupied the margin.

  18. Sean Richardson said,

    November 29, 2020 @ 9:53 pm

    I could tell you a TCP/idiolect joke but the universe would end first.

  19. Yerushalmi said,

    November 30, 2020 @ 12:21 am

    @David Morris

    Gyles Brandreth said on television at one point, "I'd tell you a coronavirus joke, but we'll have to wait two weeks to see if you get it". There were complaints.

  20. Philip Taylor said,

    November 30, 2020 @ 3:27 am

    D-AW (your alter ago link is broken — it is probably lacking a "uwaterloo" element): I don't think that the Language Log community share a single idiolect — a group whom one member might address as "guys" might be addressed by another member as "chaps". You should simply use your own idiolect to express your joke and expect that the majority of us will understand it.

  21. Stephen Goranson said,

    November 30, 2020 @ 10:54 am

    On "If Thieves wear Sneakers and Artists wear Skechers. Do Linguists wear Converse?"
    note the variant shoe reading:
    All Stars Converse

  22. Julian said,

    December 1, 2020 @ 6:59 am

    I have a Schrodinger joke. It's only funny when you listen to it. Or maybe not.

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