Do chickens have lips?

PulauPandan

Senior Member
Indonesian
What does the man mean by saying this to answer the woman's question?:
The woman asked: "Do vegetarians eat hamburgers?
The man answered: "Do chickens have lips?"
Can I use this phrase to answer such question? Why not "yes/no".?
Thanks a lot.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Sure, you can answer a question this way. Try to make sure your listener is comfortable with this kind of humor before you use it. It's funnier to ask "do chickens have lips?" than it is to say "no". Similarly, it's more fun to ask "does a bear crap in the woods?" than it is to say "yes".
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Yes, it's humorous (some people might only call it 'slightly humorous'), but it's also sarcastic. Not everyone appreciates that kind of 'snappy' answer to an innocent question, so I'd recommend you use it only with people you know very well who appreciate sarcasm.
     

    mathman

    Senior Member
    English-American/New England
    This is a variant on two similar phrases:

    "Do bears (or: Does a bear) shit in the woods?" (for which owlman5 gave the less crude version)

    "Is the Pope Catholic?"

    These two are generally used (in a sarcastic/humorous way) to mean "Yes."

    "Do chickens have lips?"

    "Do pigs fly?"

    are used in the same way to mean "No."

    I'm sure there are many others like this.

    I agree with ewie's comment on being careful around whom you say any of these.
     

    soccergal

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I agree with Ewie. These questions imply that the answer to the question is so obvious, that it is a silly question. They could be considered offensive. If it's a close friend who wouldn't be offended by a little sarcasm, "Duh!" can mean yes or no. That's a more overt way of saying the answer to the question is obvious.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Yes, it's humorous (some people might only call it 'slightly humorous'), but it's also sarcastic. Not everyone appreciates that kind of 'snappy' answer to an innocent question, so I'd recommend you use it only with people you know very well who appreciate sarcasm.
    I would say it's more sarcastic if the person asked what to the answerer is a question with an obvious answer. Otherwise, it might simply be taken as a very firm answer rather than as sarcasm.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Thank you all my teachers. So it's sarcastic. I'd better not used it.
    My advice is to use this phrase with your friends who have a good sense of humor. If you say this to me, I'll probably laugh. If you say it to me every time I ask you a question, I'll probably get annoyed.
     

    mathman

    Senior Member
    English-American/New England
    I think it is very difficult for a non-native speaker (and sometimes a native speaker) to know when to use these phrases.

    I have certainly used them numerous times with (good) friends, usually followed by a raise of the eyebrows and a smile, and no one has ever been offended. In such situations, they usually smile too. So here I would translate them as "Come on, you're smart: I know you know the answer to that!" I wouldn't call this use "sarcastic."

    I have also used them in arguments, not followed by any sort of smile, when the other person is being unpleasant. (Never throw the first punch...) The other person was not generally amused. Here I would translate them as "What are you, stupid? The answer is obvious." I would call this use "sarcastic."

    I have had the phrase used towards me as well, in both situations. In the first, I laughed along. In the second, I responded in a similarly sarcastic tone (if I could: sometimes, the other person was right).

    Occasionally, I thought the situation was one of the above, but in fact it was the other one. Then things got messy.

    So for a non-native I would confine the usage to the first situation until your fluency improves to the point that you feel you can handle the second situation.
     

    hmk14

    New Member
    English - Maritime Canada
    I realize this thread is a bit old but I wanted to point out that saying "Do chickens have lips?" in response to a question is not merely sarcastic but is ironically sarcastic. It should be said with gusto and is very positive. For example, you ask someone who you know loves ice cream if he would like some ice cream and he replies, "Do chickens have lips?" or in other words, "I most definitely do!"

    It most assuredly does not mean "no".
     

    grubble

    Senior Member
    British English
    I realize this thread is a bit old but I wanted to point out that saying "Do chickens have lips?" in response to a question is not merely sarcastic but is ironically sarcastic. It should be said with gusto and is very positive. For example, you ask someone who you know loves ice cream if he would like some ice cream and he replies, "Do chickens have lips?" or in other words, "I most definitely do!"

    It most assuredly does not mean "no".
    Hello hmk and welcome to the forum! :)

    You have slightly mis-read the saying. Chickens don't have lips, they have beaks. ;)

    1.
    "Do you want some ice-cream?"
    "Do chickens have beaks?" (means Yes)

    2.
    "Do you want some ice-cream?"
    "Do chickens have lips?" (means No)
     
    Last edited:

    hmk14

    New Member
    English - Maritime Canada
    Sorry but you make a common mistake in ignoring the ironic intent of the saying. The irony is that you use a question which is properly answered "no" to mean "yes.

    There is a much more common precedent. When someone asks you a question when he should know the answer is "yes", you might instead answer "Nooooooo." Obviously the irony is that you are using "no" to mean "yes". In the chicken question you are doing the same only replacing the "Noooooo" with a question properly answered "no."
     
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