Street Jokes, Polysemy, and Intertextuality

Nukat al Shari3a (Street Jokes) is a program shown on Jordanian television that follows host Mohammed Lahham as he travels through both Palestine and Jordan asking people he meets on the street to tell him a joke. The show is currently in its second season. This is a link to the source I found out about the show from, a blog that helps Arabic students to gain proficiency in dialect through vieweing various media forms:
http://thearabicstudent.blogspot.com/2012/04/palestinian-jokes-explained-in-english.html
I find the link above to be really interesting for a few reasons. In response to one child’s joke, the host replies “Like!” in English and gives him a high five. Though the entire show is in Arabic, the host chooses to break this linguistic precedent and use the English word ‘like,’ to invoke the facebook practice of ‘liking’ content published by friends. The polysemy of the video sends an interesting message about the demographics that the show is trying to reach; it would be a really interesting study to look at what type of audience is watching the show regularly, how much English they may speak, how familiar they are with facebook, and whether the reference was understood. The fact that people residing in other countries often perceive facebook as inherently connected with the English language is also an interesting fact.
Another video actually contains a reference to the Zenga Zenga video that we watched in class. Though I’m not entirely sure about the Arabic in this portion of the video, it seems as though the host asks a man to tell him a joke, to which he eventually replies, “zenga zenga!” and continues to recite a few notable quotes from the clip. The show plays on this reference and plays the song over clips of the host interacting with Palestinians with editing effects that reflect the original youtube sensation. This small digression demonstrates how important a role intertextuality can play in humor and media in general.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M2i5_vHA9s&feature=fvst
Though they do not usually have English subtitles, you can view more of these videos by searching for ‘Mohammed Lahham’ on youtube.

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One Response to Street Jokes, Polysemy, and Intertextuality

  1. What interesting cases of “re-mediation,” references to or quotes of one media in another. Can we “like” this?

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