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My friend sent me this on WeChat, and I'm told this is an amusing Chinese-language joke:

一、请写出下面两句话的区别在哪里?

1、冬天:能穿多少穿多少;夏天:能穿多少穿多少。

2、剩女产生原因有两个,一是谁都看不上,二是谁都看不上

3、女孩给男朋友打电话:如果你到了,我还没到,你就等着吧;如果我到了,你还没到,你就等着吧。

4、单身原因原来是喜欢一个人,现在是喜欢一个人。

二、附加题:

中国足球和中国乒乓球,一是谁都不了,二是谁都不了。

Question: How do I translate and find the humor in this?

This is my translation below (spoiler alert), but I don't understand much of the humor:

  1. Winter: Can wear how much wear how much? Summer: Can wear how much wear how much? (穿多少穿多少)

    No idea why this is funny, or how it's even grammatical.

  2. "Left over women" arise in two ways: one is that nobody sees them (?), one is that everyone hates them (?). (谁都看不上)

    I probably didn't translate this well.

  3. A girl gives her boyfriend a phone call: If you arrive, and I'm not there, you wait for me. If I arrive, and you're not there, you wait for me.

    I'm confident my translation is close to correct, but I don't see why this is funny (or even logical).

  4. The reason for being a bachelor: at first, you like one person (一个人), but now you like being by yourself (一个人).

    I think I've both translated this accurately, and understand the humor.

  5. Additional question: Chinese football and Chinese table tennis: one nobody wins, the other nobody wins. (谁都赢不了)

    I think the idea is that the Chinese football team always loses, so 谁都赢不了, but the Chinese ping pang team always wins, so for the other team 谁都赢不了.

  • 多少。。。多少 ichacha:你要多少就拿多少 take as many as you want,纸需要多少领多少 get as much paper as you nee......1。冬天/夏天:wear as much/little as you can 2。看上 like, take a fancy to, 4.喜欢一个人 both times again the same, like to live by o.s. could be 喜欢一个人住 – user6065 Nov 11 '17 at 1:06
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I am a native Chinese speaker. Let me explain for you.

The humor: Every two sentences look the same but having totally different meanings.

1、冬天:能穿多少穿多少;夏天:能穿多少穿多少。

Translate: Winter: Put on as much clothing as you can. Summer: Put on as fewer clothing as you can.

Explain: In the Winter sentence, 多少 is interpreted together, means "the quantity of the things that you have". In the sentence, it is exaggerated, and translate to "as much as you can". In the Summer sentence, 多少 should be interpreted separately as: 多 is an adjective "much", and 少 "a few", 多 is an adjective for 少, so 多少 means "very few".

2、剩女产生的原因有两个,一是谁都看不上,二是谁都看不上

Background: 剩女 is a noun, means old girls (often older than 30) who are still single/unmarried. This is a slightly offensive word. 看上 means "falls in love with", 看不上 means "not falls in love with".

Translate: There are two reasons for being a 剩女: first, (she does) not fall for anybody; second, nobody falls for her.

Explain: The first sentence the "She" is an omission. For the second sentence, there is no omission, so 谁 is the body who is doing 看不上, and hence translates to "nobody falls for her".

3、女孩给男朋友打电话:如果你到了,我还没到,你就等着吧;如果我到了,你还没到,你就等着吧。

Background: Most Chinese girlfriends are spoiled, and would demand much more from their boyfriends. And most Chinese take it for granted.

Translate: A girl gives her boyfriend a phone call: If you arrive, and I'm not there, you wait for me. If I arrive, and you're not there, you are going to wait for my punishment.

Explain: In Chinese, 等着 is a special word. In some occasions (depends on the context), 等着 translates to "give somebody a lesson". If someone is angry, he would say: 你给我等着. This means "I gonna get some helps and come back to punish you, you'd better stay here and do not go away."

4、单身的原因:原来是喜欢一个人,现在是喜欢一个人。

Yours is perfect.

中国足球和中国乒乓球,一是谁都赢不了,二是谁都赢不了。

Your translation and understanding are both perfect.

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This is an interesting question. Some wordplay have been used in those jokes.

Those sentences could be easier to understand if they are rephrased as:

  1. 冬天:能穿多少(衣服)()穿多少(衣服);夏天:(衣服)能穿(多么地)少()穿(多么地)少。
  2. 剩女产生的原因有两个,一是()谁都看不上,二是谁都看不上(
  3. 女孩给男朋友打电话:如果你到了,我还没到,你就(在那里一直)等着(我出现)吧;如果我到了,你还没到,你就等着(我怎么来惩罚你)吧。
  4. 单身的原因:原来是喜欢一个(男/女)人,现在是喜欢一个人(单身生活)。
  5. 中国足球和中国乒乓球,一是(中国足球)(无论对上)谁都赢不了,二是谁都赢不了(中国乒乓球)。
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1、冬天:能穿多少穿多少;夏天:能穿多少穿多少。

A play on the two meanings of 多少; How(ever) many/much vs. 多 as adverb, as in "how + adjective".

See how beautiful I am!

看我多漂亮!

In this case, the adjective is 少.

See how little he's wearing!

看他穿得多少!

冬天:能穿多少穿多少

In the winter, however many (clothes/layers) you can put on, put them on.

夏天:能穿多少穿多少

In the summer, however little you can wear, wear that. (This is word-for-word translation, a little awkward in English. A more natural way to express this is "in the summer, wear as little as you can (get away with.")

2、剩女产生的原因有两个,一是谁都看不上,二是谁都看不上

The humour of this one is that 谁 can be either subject or object of 看不上.

剩女产生的原因有两个,一是(她)谁都看不上,二是谁都看不上(她).

A "left over woman" arises in two ways: one is that she's not interested in anybody, the other is that nobody is interested in her.

The same goes for the additional sentence:

中国足球和中国乒乓球,一是谁都赢不了,二是谁都赢不了。

(About) Chinese football and Chinese table tennis: one of them (presumably this is talking about the Chinese football team) can beat nobody, the other (table tennis team) nobody can beat them.

3、女孩给男朋友打电话:如果你到了,我还没到,你就等着吧;如果我到了,你还没到,你就等着吧。

This one is quite difficult because there is an implied threat in the second 等着吧, whereas there is none in the first.

A girl gives her boyfriend a phone call: If you arrive, and I'm not there, you wait for me. If I arrive, and you're not there, you wait and see.

4、单身的原因:原来是喜欢一个人,现在是喜欢一个人。

You nailed this one. Congratulations!

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