What DO you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face ? Caf

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Gatuna

Senior Member
Español (México)
Hello. I am translating the subtitles for a TV show, and I'm stuck with this phrase:

"What DO you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face ? Caf "

It is a joke that is shared between some guys at a pub with no context whatsoever. The only later reference to the joke is the guy saying "it was just a joke, I didn't mean anything by it", which tells me it may be an offensive joke.

Can someone tell me what is the meaning of "Caf" here, and why would it be offensive -if it is-? Thank you in advance.
 
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  • holymoses

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    I don't know, but if I had to guess, I'd say it's a play on caf (as in cafe) and Cath (the woman's name). Because cafs/cafes serve eggs and bacon.

    'bird' is an impolite word for a woman, and the whole thing is in quite poor taste, but it doesn't seem massively offensive.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I don't know, but if I had to guess, I'd say it's a play on caf (as in cafe) and Cath (the woman's name). Because cafs/cafes serve eggs and bacon.

    'bird' is an impolite word for a woman, and the whole thing is in quite poor taste, but it doesn't seem massively offensive.
    Quite possible. "Caf" for "Cath" would be, I believe, a typical Cockney pronunciation. Perhaps there's an obscene suggestion to "egg and bacon."
     

    fiercediva

    Senior Member
    American English
    The TV show is "Whitechapel". From Times Higher Education:

    "This being the East End, the language is more colourful than literary. "What do you call a bird with bacon on her face?" asks one young man. "Kath." A couples of heavies, presumably with mothers called "Kath", are not amused and remove half his face while he is taking a loo break. "
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Well, there's some discrepancy between the text of the query and what the Times says (bacon vs eggs and bacon; Caf vs Kath). I think one would need to check the show or the script, otherwise it's just wild guessing.
     

    Gatuna

    Senior Member
    Español (México)
    Thank you, everyone.

    The TV show is "Whitechapel". From Times Higher Education:

    "This being the East End, the language is more colourful than literary. "What do you call a bird with bacon on her face?" asks one young man. "Kath." A couples of heavies, presumably with mothers called "Kath", are not amused and remove half his face while he is taking a loo break. "
    That's right, it is Whitechapel, and thank you. This is the closest reference to this particular quote that I've seen on the Internet.

    I just wondered if British viewers are getting the joke.

    But then what would be the connection to "caf"?
    This is exactly what I'm thinking.
     

    holymoses

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    I think I do vaguely understand the joke, if it is supposed to mean what I thought.

    Good luck translating it into Spanish though!
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Here's another possible idea about bacon and eggs:

    breakfast face
    Someone who has a face that looks like a plate of breakfast. Two over-easy eggs for eyes, and one or two strips of bacon for a mouth. Frequently, you can find breakfast faces at the restaurant IHOP. This is ironic, because of the breakfast faces they serve there. Their breakfast face is pancakes fruit and whipped topping as facial features.
    used in a sentence: "That girl's got breakfast face." (Urban Dictionary)
     

    holymoses

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    "What do you call a woman/man with..." is a common type of joke in English, I don't know if its the same in other countries.

    Eg. "-what do you call a man with a spade (pala) on his head? - Doug" Because Doug is a man's name, and it also sounds like the word 'dug', past tense of 'dig' (cavar).

    Then, "- What do you call a man without a spade on his head? - Douglas" Because Douglas is a man's name, and it sounds like 'dug less', meaning someone who has not dug.

    "-What do you call a man with a seagull on his head? - Cliff". Because Cliff is a man's name, and a cliff is also where seagulls stand.

    They're very stupid jokes, but they're quite well known here.

    In this case, "What do you call a woman with bacon and eggs on her face? - Caf" is a joke because it sounds like the way a cockney person would say the woman's name 'Cath' and the word 'cafe'. And a cafe sells bacon and eggs.

    Don't worry, it's not funny in English either.

    Here's an entire thread dedicated to these jokes:
    http://www.comedy.co.uk/forums/thread/21021/
     
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    holymoses

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    These types of puns are notoriously difficult to translate.

    No, I don't think it's sexually offensive.
     
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    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    I read the Whitechapel script. And though it is offered as a joke it is an effort to make a point. I didn't understand the joke or the point that they were trying to make.

    http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=whitechapel&episode=s02e01

    This is how it appears:

    [...]Let's not make a long night feel even longer.
    Ey, what d'you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face? Dunno.
    What DO you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face? Caf'.
    You should know that, despite appearances, I still have your best interests at heart.
    - I understand the politics, sir.[...]

    And this is how I understand it to be read:

    Speaker #1: Let's not make a long night feel even longer.

    Speaker #2: Ey, what d'you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face? Dunno.

    Speaker #1: What DO you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face? Caf'.

    Speaker #2: You should know that, despite appearances, I still have your best interests at heart.

    Speaker #1: I understand the politics, sir...

    On line #3, why is "DO" have an emphasis added? And is "Caf" an answer or a person's name in apposition?

    Note: My understanding on how the script is read is based entirely on intuition and supposition. I have no other source material.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The traditional (BE) telling of such a joke/riddle is that it starts with:
    A: "I say, I say, I say, what do you call a ..."
    and the response is
    "I don't know, what do you call a ...". This has its origins in in comedy double-acts from the early 19th century onwards.
    And is "Caf" an answer or a person's name in apposition?
    This is mentioned above: Caf = the Cockney pronunciation of both café and Kath/Cath, the short version of Catherine.
     

    holymoses

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    'Caf' is both an answer, and is meant to sound like a person's name. The joke is based on the fact that 'caf' and 'cath' sound similar in a cockney accent. It just doesn't work as well when it's written down.

    In line 3, 'do' is emphasised to reflect where the stress would be put on the sentence if it was spoken out loud.

    "What do you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face?"
    "I don't know, what do you call her?"

    That's the way it would be spoken in English, to emphasise that the second speaker is asking the first speaker to tell him the answer.
     

    Gatuna

    Senior Member
    Español (México)
    Speaker #1: Let's not make a long night feel even longer.

    Speaker #2: Ey, what d'you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face? Dunno.

    Speaker #1: What DO you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face? Caf'.

    Speaker #2: You should know that, despite appearances, I still have your best interests at heart.

    Speaker #1: I understand the politics, sir...
    Thank you for your suggestion. The lines in bold belong to other scenes, taking place on a different location, and also, both bold lines happen at different moments (i.e. "Let's not make..." is not the same scene of "You should know that..."/"I understand the politics, sir..."). The scene goes like this:

    Speaker #1: Ey, what d'you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face?

    Speaker #2: Dunno. What DO you call a bird with egg and bacon on her face?'.

    Speaker #1: Caf.

    They all laugh, and then they cut to another scene. And then they come back to the pub, where the one who told the joke is in the men's restroom. When two thugs come up to him, he says: "It was just a joke, I didn't mean anything by it". And they proceed to attack him.
     
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    Gatuna

    Senior Member
    Español (México)
    Well, thank you everyone. I'll try to adapt the format of the joke explained by holymoses, then. :)
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    I've watched the episode. Holymoses is right, the man does pronounce it as [kaf], and the idea that the man somehow crossed the thugs with the joke is later confirmed, but that's all there is to it. People from the Times, apparently, didn't get it either and their suggestion is a good as anyone's.

    Good luck with the translation, Gatuna!
     

    Kirusha

    Senior Member
    Cathy Lane happens in the first season (Jack-the Ripper copycat murders), and the second season revolves around the Kray twins (and they are presumably the thugs who mutilated the man). I watched episode 2 of season 1 by mistake first.
     
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