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Telling Jokes in French

Our friend Lionel is known for his witty puns and excellent comedic timing. He even filmed a standup set for Yabla! Apparently, a good sense of humor runs in his family. In Lionel's latest video, his cousin Jean-Pierre cracks a joke about the Vosges mountain range: 


Y a une blague à propos de...

There's a joke about...

justement des Vosges du Nord.

precisely about the Northern Vosges.

Quand on voit pas les Vosges du Nord,

When you don't see the Northern Vosges,

c'est qu'il pleut.

it's because it's raining.

Et quand on les voit bien, c'est qu'il va pleuvoir.

And when you see them clearly, it means that it's going to rain.

Captions 85-90, Lionel - à Lindre-Basse

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If you didn't laugh at Jean-Pierre's joke, you probably had to be there (near the Northern Vosges, that is). 


Une blague doesn't only refer to a verbal joke. It can also be a trick or a prank you play on someone: 


On va leur faire une bonne blague!

We're going to play a nice trick on them!

Caption 23, Il était une fois - Notre Terre - 9. Les écosystèmes

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Une farce and un tour are the other words for "trick," "prank," or "practical joke":


Une farce joyeuse et de franche gaieté.

A joyous prank with uninhibited gaiety.

Caption 10, Il était une fois... l’Homme - 6. Le siècle de Périclès

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Ils ont plus d'un tour dans leur sac.

They have more than one trick in their bag [up their sleeves].

Caption 34, Il était une fois... la vie - 14. La bouche et les dents

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There's also another word for "joke": une plaisanterie. This example explains what happens in your body when you laugh at a joke: 


Vous savez que ce sont les lèvres glottiques

You know that it's the glottic folds

qui sous l'effet d'une plaisanterie se mettent à vibrer.

that start vibrating when a joke is told.

Captions 8-9, Le Journal - Les effets bénéfiques du rire!

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So how do you say "to crack a joke" or "to tell a joke" in French? You can either say raconter une plaisanterie or raconter une blague: 


Il aime raconter des plaisanteries [or des blagues] grivoises.
He loves to tell dirty jokes


But if you're talking about "joking" or "joking/messing around," then you use the verbs plaisanter or blaguer:


Ils blaguaient tout le temps pendant leur enfance.
They always used to joke around when they were little. 


Tu plaisantes! Je ne crois pas ça. -Non, je ne plaisante pas! 
You're kidding! I don't believe that. -No, I'm not kidding!


Thanks for reading! We'll be back soon with a new lesson. Sans blague! (No joke!)


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