I wouldn't start from here

TOTO KAKA

Senior Member
Persian
Hello everyone
Have a good time

I received the next text as an Irish joke:

"A traveller stops to ask a farmer the way to a small village. The farmer thinks for a while and then says "If you want to go there I would not start from here."


What is the funny part in this joke? Is there a wordplay (or another humorous point) hidden from my non-native eyes/ears?

Thanks
 
  • TOTO KAKA

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Dear Tavarish Awwal12
    Thank you for making time.

    To be honest, I expected something more.

    Let's wait for more possible views as there may be new perspectives in other friends' minds.

    Best wishes
     

    TOTO KAKA

    Senior Member
    Persian
    No. The premise of the joke is that Irish people are stupid—a clearly offensive racialist slur and unacceptable stereotype.

    Thanks a million

    That's it. I got the case.

    Sad to say, such insulting stereotypes are common and they are, as you mentioned, unacceptable.
    Just in this text, knowing about them helps us get the point.

    Unfortunately, in my country, Iran, there are lots of jokes based on such stereotypes.


    Really appreciate again
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    No. The premise of the joke is that Irish people are stupid—a clearly offensive racialist slur and unacceptable stereotype.
    Peasants are stereotypized as stupid people in most modern urbanized cultures. As far as it's an Irish joke, I don't see how it can be racistic (and even if it isn't, it doesn't sound much racistic either - I mean, it may be mildly offensive, but no one is supposed to give it any actual weight anyway).
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The idea itself isn't absurd, as the farmer presumably thought that the traveller had somehow ended up a long way from the route he ought to have taken. He'll probably have to go a long way back the way he came and start off again in another direction.

    It's his expression of that thought that isn't logical (though in fact the farmer's response is not as silly as you might think: he gently implies that the traveller is the daft one). I don't know why the Irish are supposed (by the English) to speak in a particularly illogical way. I guess it's because English was a foreign language to the majority of Irish people until relatively recently. Different thought patterns.

    /ˈaɪrɪʃ/adj
    1. of, relating to, or characteristic of Ireland, its people, their Celtic language, or their dialect of English
    2. informal offensive - ludicrous or illogical
    n


    ...it’s hard to tell whether the joke is actually racist, since there is something of the ‘Wise Fool’ in the Irishman’s response. After all, if you want to get somewhere, then it’s better to start from a place where you have a good chance of reaching your goal.
    If I were you, I wouldn’t start from here
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    From our house it's possible to get to the town of Nafplion by following the coast road south and then turning inland. It's a scenic route, and it will get you there, but it takes longer. A motorist should not accuse me of being "Irish" if I tell him "I wouldn't start from here if I were you", and direct him back to the main "National Road" and the faster inland route via Tripoli and Argos.

    "You can't get there from here" also sounds sensible to me: it means you have to turn back to get on the right track.

    GPS is a godsend.
     

    aidanm

    New Member
    English
    I know I'm waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy late on this but I was googling to find the origin of this story and found this. Everyone in this thread is so wrong it hurts because the premise is wrong. It's not a joke. It's a kind of modern parable (admittedly with a humorous bend) about how people complain pointlessly, like if a bunch of people are discussing how to solve a problem and one person just goes "Well, if XYZ hadn't happened we wouldn't be in this mess!" Where a solution is actively being sought, it's completely unhelpful to criticize what led up to the problem in the first place. In the same way, saying "I wouldn't start from here" is completely unhelpful to someone asking for directions, because you can't start from anywhere but where you are.

    To all the people saying it's a joke about how the Irish are stupid: get a grip. The setting of Ireland (and Scotland, in another version I found) is completely incidental, significant only in them being unfamiliar places to the subject, and (one could argue) in the casual hostility/unhelpfulness towards English people from native Irish/Scots. Even then, the story is hardly making a comment on it, it's just a device.
     
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    TOTO KAKA

    Senior Member
    Persian
    Hi aidanm

    Better late than never.
    Thanks for taking me back to old days.

    Your notion on the discussion is really appreciated and a part of my knowledge.

    Thanks for making time
     

    aidanm

    New Member
    English
    Hi aidanm

    Better late than never.
    Thanks for taking me back to old days.

    Your notion on the discussion is really appreciated and a part of my knowledge.

    Thanks for making time
    No problem at all, glad I could help in some way
     

    Twisty

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I've heard this story told by Alan Watts, but in his version, it wasn't an Irishman but an English country yokel. So yes, he adopted the story as a Zen/Buddhist parable.

    EDIT: It's possible he changed the nationality precisely to avoid any kind of racist overtones.
     
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