Bonus Baldo: A pun before and after translation

Back in last November, in this “OY collection” post, we discussed a Baldo strip and the matching Baldo en Español where an element of the joke doesn’t come thru in the Spanish version, and combined this observation with other instances, as well as “About” tab type info and external sources, to agree that the strip seems usually to have been first written in English, then translated for the Spanish version.

(In that November post, if you feel like scrolling back, there was also a fun digression stemming from a different comic, on a style of word-play puzzle called by some “Dingbats”, a sort of text-layout rebus.)

In March, Arnold Zwicky’s Blog discussed a related example, with the same conclusion, where the English Baldo was about English language spelling and pronunciation (just pointing out that tough, cough, and dough give different sounds to the -ough sequence of letters) and the Baldo en Español just used the Spanish translations of those words, which really don’t resemble each other in any special way, certainly not rhyming. Zwicky also brought up some possibilities on how the Spanish version could have been handled. (And yes, that’s me popping into the comments.)

Now lookit what just showed up on GoComics!

All the Spanish that you really need to know here is that pecado indeed means sin, and pescado means fish (as food).

In the English version, Tía Carmen’s jest is to turn the saying “Hate the sin but love the sinner” into “… love the dinner”. In Spanish she says “… love the fish [we are eating]” which is basically the same idea, but manages to preserve the word-play element because of the resemblance of pecado and pescado.


  1. I think it’s better in Spanish. The Ess in sinner and the Dee in Dinner aren’t that similar. But (i think) Pecado and Pescado are.

    But this raises the question. Is the phrase “Hate the sin; love the sinner” something one says in Spanish?

  2. The Ess in sinner and the Dee in Dinner aren’t that similar

    Uh, right, they’re different letters. But that lets the words be a full, perfect rhyme. I think it’s a fine little quip.

    Of course, if the surroundings were unpleasantly noisy, we could hate the din but love the dinner.

  3. Okay, it’s a fine quip. But a poor pun. (Rhymes aren’t necessarily puns.)

    But it is a better pun in Spanish.

  4. According to, the phrase “odio el pecado, amo el pescado” has never been used online, ever.

    So it might be an OK pun, but it doesn’t resonate with a Christian homily the way the English version does.

  5. Carl, I’m not entirely clear on what point you’re making.

    According to, the phrase “odio el pecado, amo el pescado” has never been used online, ever.

    Okay, but “Odia el pecado, ama al pecador” has loads of results, the first of which calls it a cliché. Muchos cristianos usan el cliché de “ama al pecador, pero odia el pecado”

    So I think your point that but it doesn’t resonate with a Christian homily the way the English version does. is open to challenge!

  6. Golly, Kevin, you now and some other CIDUers at times (woozy I’m thinking of you!) say that something or other is not a pun, and seem to be relying on a strict criterial definition (that is, a set of [individually] necessary and [jointly] sufficient conditions). Sometimes even producing some of these conditions!

    That’s fine, it’s interesting to get into details of classification. But for me, that’s not really how meanings and their applicability work. Maybe this, and related cases, are not for you puns. Okay. But I expect you would agree there is some form of word play going on? And that’s all it takes to get an OY tag.

  7. For one thing, there is the “simple pun” and the “extended pun”. The simple pun may be extempore or planned (generally considered funnier or superior in the former case), the extended pun pretty much has to be planned. The extended pun is a story-joke, assembling elements via story which will combine in the punch line to form a phrase or statement related to a commonplace or cliché or saying, by some manner of word play or distortion.

  8. Oh yes, I agree the switch to a rhyming word is wordplay. (..and I felt a bigger “Oy” than usual. The context was a meal at church, and I feel the “sin” was supposed to represent something that might occasionally be in the service/sermon/discussion, separate (sort of) from the dinner. My mind has a bit of a flip-flop going on between “it works” and “it doesn’t work very well and I appreciate the effort”).

    Danny Boy’s “din”/”dinner” combo is the kind of rescue that I Iove finding on CIDU.

  9. Many of the church dinners I have been to have been noisy, as people made many different conversations at many different tables (but the dinners were mostly pretty good). Maybe it should be “Hate the din, love the dinner”? Don’t know how that would work in Spanish.

  10. Once, when my Spanish-speaking ex and I heard a somewhat ribald bit of wordplay from a standup comedian, she and I came away with totally different meanings of the joke in English and Spanish. It’s slightly funnier and much cleaner if you hear it in Spanish, but the comedian obviously intended the dirtier and less funny English punchline. We found it amazing that the comedian accidentally made a perfectly serviceable pun in a language he definitely didn’t speak.

    I’d post it here, but I’m not sure what everybody’s sensibilities are. (There are no actual swears in the joke, just in the listener’s hearing of it.)

  11. I’ve heard the extended pun called a “shaggy dog story.” An example is the guy arrested for transporting gulls across a staid lion for immortal porpoises.

    But to me a “shaggy dog story” was a joke that goes on and on and on for many minutes, only to end in a punch line that is not even particularly funny. An example is the one where Ed the horse says to Ned the horse, “Did you know that dog can talk?” Or the classic shaggy dog story, with the punch line “That dog isn’t THAT shaggy.”

  12. MarkInBoston, I agree with both aspects of your comment about “shaggy dog story” – that people do sometimes use the terms for any longish joke-story, especially of the variety ending with a punning-distorted familiar phrase; and that the term is probably better reserved for the ones with a flop non-joke ending.

  13. On the English-Spanish translation thing: I wonder who does the Spanish translations of certain comics. Comics Kingdom has both the Phantom and El Fantasma. Strangely, it appears that the Sunday ones appear on the same day but the weekday ones have El Fantasma several weeks after Phantom. In February, Phantom had a Mexican man saying “VAMANOS!”, which to my mind is incorrect on two counts. (It should be “¡VAMONOS!”.) On March 19, El Fantasma also had him saying “VAMANOS!”.

    If CK has an actual Spanish speaker doing El Fantasma, and not just some dilettante like me, how could that happen? Their HQ is in Beaumont, Texas, so I would imagine there are some Spanish speakers available, if they look hard enough.

  14. We had this discussion before. And extended pun is a “feghoot”.

    But what sometimes bothers me is that even when people get the definition correct but get the examples wrong.

    Wikipedia defines a shaggy dog story correctly as “an extremely long-winded anecdote characterized by extensive narration of typically irrelevant incidents and terminated by an anticlimax” but nearly all their examples are NOT that.

    The give the story of the Mark Twain and the Grandfathers old ram which is not a shaggy dog story in that the story isn’t anticlimactic so much as it is constantly derailed as to never get to point and aren’t so much anticlimactic as non-climactic at all.. Ditto Alice’s restaurant. A shaggy dog story does get to the point, eventually, but it it’s humor is in how utterly disappointing it is.

    Not sure what the term for the rambling derailed story is.

  15. Translations to Spanish are presumably being done in Malaysia or someplace, not in Texas. Large companies still try to outsource everyting.

  16. The Spanish word for ‘dinner’ is ‘cena’, which almost rhymes with ‘dinner’ and ‘sinner’.

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