"It is to laugh"

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Barry Rein

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Sep 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/11/98
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Dear a.u.e:

Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh", meaning
that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds like a
humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase -- something a
non-native English speaker might say.

Also, is it used outside of the USA?

I hope this hasn't been dealt with before. It couldn't find it in the
FAQ,or on Deja News. Thanks for your replies and comments.

Sincerely,
Barry Rein
br...@aero.org

Albert Marshall

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Sep 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/11/98
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Barry Rein <br...@aero.org> wrote

>Dear a.u.e:
>
>Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh", meaning
>that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds like a
>humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase -- something a
>non-native English speaker might say.
>
>Also, is it used outside of the USA?
>
Never heard it in the UK -- even from non-natives.
--
Albert Marshall
Visual Solutions
Kent, England
01634 400902

Rex Knepp

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Sep 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/11/98
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Barry Rein wrote:

> Dear a.u.e:
>
> Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh", meaning
> that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds like a
> humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase -- something a
> non-native English speaker might say.
>
> Also, is it used outside of the USA?
>

Don't know much about the origins, but one of the Warner Brothers
cartoon characters -- Daffy Duck? -- used it frequently.


-30-

rex


Gary Williams, Business Services Accounting

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Sep 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/11/98
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In article <35f9532a....@news.aero.org>, br...@aero.org (Barry Rein)
writes:

>Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh", meaning
>that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds like a
>humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase -- something a
>non-native English speaker might say.

Is it, perhaps, from Yiddish?

Gary Williams

Evan Kirshenbaum

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Sep 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/11/98
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br...@aero.org (Barry Rein) writes:

> Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh",
> meaning that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds
> like a humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase --
> something a non-native English speaker might say.

Well, with the opposite meaning (a sarcastic "very funny" or "you may
find it funny, but I don't"), I'd trace it back to the Daffy Duck
cartoon _Robin Hood Daffy_ (Warner Brothers, 1953). After someone had
played a joke on him, he deadpanned "Ha. Ha. It is to laugh". The
cartoon had a lot of faux-Medieval English in it.

> Also, is it used outside of the USA?

Can't help you there.

--
Evan Kirshenbaum +------------------------------------
HP Laboratories |"Revolution" has many definitions.
1501 Page Mill Road, Building 1U |From the looks of this, I'd say
Palo Alto, CA 94304 |"going around in circles" comes
|closest to applying...
kirsh...@hpl.hp.com | Richard M. Hartman
(650)857-7572

http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Evan_Kirshenbaum/

N.Mitchum

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Sep 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/11/98
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Barry Rein wrote:
-----

> Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh", meaning
> that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds like a
> humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase -- something a
> non-native English speaker might say.
>....

To me it seems a hippish way of saying, rather snidely, that the
speaker finds the subject mildly amusing. It sounds somewhat
snobbish, effete, insincere.

Another, more common expression built on the same lines is "It is
to die for" -- an over-the-top way of saying you like something
very much. Sounds anemically sophisticated, world-weary, forced.


----NM [If replying by e-mail, please heed my address]

Iskandar Baharuddin

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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Barry Rein wrote:
>
> Dear a.u.e:
>
> Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh", meaning
> that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds like a
> humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase -- something a
> non-native English speaker might say.
>
> Also, is it used outside of the USA?
>

C'est a rire.

Have yet to hear it is Oz.

--
Izzy

"One day as I sat brooding, depressed, alone, with no one to
turn to -
suddenly a voice came to me from out of the gloom, saying:

'Cheer up! After all, things could be worse!"

So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse."

from "My Struggle", Alfred E Neuman

Larry Phillips

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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Barry Rein wrote:
>
> Also, is it used outside of the USA?

I hear it occasionally in Canada. It is used to humourous effect.

--
------------------------------------------------------------
Sixty billion gigabits can do much. It even does windows.
-- Fred Pohl, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, 1980

http://cr347197-a.surrey1.bc.wave.home.com/larry/

Frank Ecke

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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On Fri, 11 Sep 1998 16:52:53 GMT, Barry Rein <br...@aero.org> wrote:

> Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh", meaning
> that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds like a
> humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase -- something a
> non-native English speaker might say.

Translating the German phrase ``Es ist zum lachen'' literally into English
yields precisely ``It is to laugh''.


Hope this helps.

Regards,

Frank

--
Frank Ecke <fra...@minet.uni-jena.de>


In a world without walls and fences, who needs windows and gates?

David McMurray

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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Evan Kirshenbaum <ev...@garrett.hpl.hp.com> wrote:

> br...@aero.org (Barry Rein) writes:
>
> > Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh",
> > meaning that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds
> > like a humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase --
> > something a non-native English speaker might say.
>

> Well, with the opposite meaning (a sarcastic "very funny" or "you may
> find it funny, but I don't"), I'd trace it back to the Daffy Duck
> cartoon _Robin Hood Daffy_ (Warner Brothers, 1953). After someone had
> played a joke on him, he deadpanned "Ha. Ha. It is to laugh". The
> cartoon had a lot of faux-Medieval English in it.

You obviously have too much time on your hands, Evan, or an incredible
memory.

As Izzy has pointed out in his response, it's a literal translation of
the French "C'est à rire". I don't know how (or if) the French use it
but I have always associated it with the mocking of an enemy, as in,
"Ha! You think you can scare me? It is to laugh."

It sounds like something one of the musketeers might say, although it
certainly has a cartoonish flavor. It is perhaps more common nowadays to
render the same idea as "I fart in your general direction".

> > Also, is it used outside of the USA?

Canada, on occasion.

--
David

Pierre Jelenc

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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David McMurray <ik0...@kingston.net> writes:
>
> As Izzy has pointed out in his response, it's a literal translation of
> the French "C'est à rire". I don't know how (or if) the French use it
> but I have always associated it with the mocking of an enemy, as in,
> "Ha! You think you can scare me? It is to laugh."

Except that is is not a French phrase. On the other hand "es ist zu
lachen" is German and, presumably, Yiddish; which would be the most
likely source for US show-biz jargon.

Pierre
--
Pierre Jelenc
| The RAW Kinder CD "EP" is out!
The New York City Beer Guide | Home Office Records
http://www.nycbeer.org | http://www.web-ho.com

Albert Marshall

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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David McMurray <ik0...@kingston.net> wrote

>
>As Izzy has pointed out in his response, it's a literal translation of
>the French "C'est à rire".

Surely you could translate "it is to laugh" into any language and then
claim that "it is..." is a literal translation of the resulting phrase.

>I don't know how (or if) the French use it

Apparently they don't.

>but I have always associated it with the mocking of an enemy, as in,
>"Ha! You think you can scare me? It is to laugh."
>

Funny, when I asked my French-born, French-raised, French speaking wife
she claimed that it wasn't French. Maybe it's Canadian French?

P&DSchultz

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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Pierre Jelenc wrote:

>
> David McMurray <ik0...@kingston.net> writes:
> >
> > As Izzy has pointed out in his response, it's a literal translation of
> > the French "C'est à rire". I don't know how (or if) the French use it

> > but I have always associated it with the mocking of an enemy, as in,
> > "Ha! You think you can scare me? It is to laugh."
>
> Except that is is not a French phrase. ...

But if people think "C'est à rire" is French, then it could be the
source. It appears in on-line French texts which I search on. And
apparently a funhouse room in a 1904 Coney Island amusement area was
called "C'est à Rire". Besides, I usually hear the phrase said with
a French accent. It doesn't have a Yiddish feeling for me at all.
//P. Schultz

Evan Kirshenbaum

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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ik0...@kingston.net (David McMurray) writes:

> Evan Kirshenbaum <ev...@garrett.hpl.hp.com> wrote:
>
> > br...@aero.org (Barry Rein) writes:
> >
> > > Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh",
> > > meaning that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it
> > > sounds like a humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase
> > > -- something a non-native English speaker might say.
> >
> > Well, with the opposite meaning (a sarcastic "very funny" or "you
> > may find it funny, but I don't"), I'd trace it back to the Daffy
> > Duck cartoon _Robin Hood Daffy_ (Warner Brothers, 1953). After
> > someone had played a joke on him, he deadpanned "Ha. Ha. It is to
> > laugh". The cartoon had a lot of faux-Medieval English in it.
> You obviously have too much time on your hands, Evan, or an incredible
> memory.

Well, I remember the cartoon; I had to look in Chuck Jones's
autobiography (_Chuck Amuck_) to be certain of the title and year.
(What with new-found parenthood, I'm working at home more, which gives
me a somewhat wider set of reference materials to draw upon.)

--
Evan Kirshenbaum +------------------------------------
HP Laboratories |The mystery of government is not how
1501 Page Mill Road, Building 1U |Washington works, but how to make it
Palo Alto, CA 94304 |stop.
| P.J. O'Rourke
kirsh...@hpl.hp.com
(650)857-7572

http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Evan_Kirshenbaum/

David McMurray

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Sep 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/12/98
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Albert Marshall <albert....@execfrog.demon.co.uk> wrote:

> David McMurray <ik0...@kingston.net> wrote


> >
> >As Izzy has pointed out in his response, it's a literal translation of
> >the French "C'est à rire".
>

> Surely you could translate "it is to laugh" into any language and then

> claim that "it is..." is a literal translation of the resulting phrase.
You surely could but "claim" is too strong a word for what I was doing.

I immediately thought "C'est à rire" when I saw the subject line in my
new messages list, before reading the message itself, if that means
anything. I was not consciously translating into French so I could get
the English.

> >I don't know how (or if) the French use it
>

> Apparently they don't.
Noted.

> >but I have always associated it with the mocking of an enemy, as in,
> >"Ha! You think you can scare me? It is to laugh."
> >

> Funny, when I asked my French-born, French-raised, French speaking wife
> she claimed that it wasn't French. Maybe it's Canadian French?

Maybe it is; I wouldn't know. "It is to laugh" is certainly Canadian
English, even though it is not known to your wife's English speaking
husband.

It doesn't take too much imagination to think that "C'est à rire" may
have come from a play on--or confusion with--"c'est-à-dire", which is
Canadian French and may also be French French. I really don't know.

And could care less. Ha!

--
David

Pierre Jelenc

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Sep 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/14/98
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P&DSchultz <schu...@erols.com> writes:
>
> But if people think "C'est à rire" is French, then it could be the
> source. It appears in on-line French texts which I search on. And

I don't see any hit.

> apparently a funhouse room in a 1904 Coney Island amusement area was
> called "C'est à Rire". Besides, I usually hear the phrase said with
> a French accent. It doesn't have a Yiddish feeling for me at all.

It just isn't French. On the other hand it *is* German.

(In French, "c'est *pour* rire" means "it's not the real thing", "it's a
dry run".)

John Ramsay

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Sep 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/14/98
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Hi, 'it is to laugh' is the literal translation of the common French
phrase 'c'est a rire'. Your instincts were correct or you may have
semi-remembered it from a school French class.

Evan Kirshenbaum (ev...@garrett.hpl.hp.com) wrote:
: ik0...@kingston.net (David McMurray) writes:

: http://www.hpl.hp.com/personal/Evan_Kirshenbaum/
--
John Ramsay
Welland Ontario
Canada

Martin A. Mazur

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Sep 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/14/98
to
In article <v9hn286...@garrett.hpl.hp.com>, Evan Kirshenbaum <ev...@garrett.hpl.hp.com> wrote:
>br...@aero.org (Barry Rein) writes:
>
>> Does anyone know the origins of the phrase, "it is to laugh",
>> meaning that the speaker finds a thing amusing? To me, it sounds
>> like a humorously literal translation of a foreign phrase --
>> something a non-native English speaker might say.
>
>Well, with the opposite meaning (a sarcastic "very funny" or "you may
>find it funny, but I don't"), I'd trace it back to the Daffy Duck
>cartoon _Robin Hood Daffy_ (Warner Brothers, 1953). After someone had
>played a joke on him, he deadpanned "Ha. Ha. It is to laugh". The
>cartoon had a lot of faux-Medieval English in it.
>

The question is still a mystery. I rather doubt the "literal translation of
the French phrase" angle and lean toward a Warner Brothers attitude. WB
cartoons introduced many colloquialisms to American speech, and often the
origin in WB cartooons is forgotten. Just recall the fact that "Nimrod", a
Hebrew hunter/hero, is now thought to mean "fool", and the origin of this
meaning is probably the instance where Bugs Bunny was making a fool of the
hunter Elmer Fudd. It might be interesting to know if the phrase "it is to
laugh" was a common colloquialism in the late 40s and early 50s. I also like
the German/Yiddish angle, and this dovetails with a WB origin. Many of WBs
cartoons included Vaudeville humor, music and cultural references, and a good
deal of this originated in the American Jewish experience. On the other hand,
the "literal translation of the French phrase" angle might have been born of
some sort of Three Musketeers farce. American's love to make fun of supposed
French haughtiness, and to show them up as fools.

--
Martin A. Mazur | 3rd Century thoughts on MTV:
| "There is no public entertainment which
Representing only himself. | does not inflict spiritual damage"
| - Tertullian
|

Albert Marshall

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Sep 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/14/98
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John Ramsay <bk...@torfree.net> wrote

>Hi, 'it is to laugh' is the literal translation of the common French
>phrase 'c'est a rire'. Your instincts were correct or you may have
>semi-remembered it from a school French class.
>
Wrong.

I repeat from earlier in this thread.

When I asked my French-born, French-raised, French speaking wife


she claimed that it wasn't French. Maybe it's Canadian French?

--

Gary Williams, Business Services Accounting

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Sep 14, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/14/98
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In article <QnUPiBApmM$1E...@execfrog.demon.co.uk>, Albert Marshall
<albert....@execfrog.demon.co.uk> writes:

>I repeat from earlier in this thread.
>
>When I asked my French-born, French-raised, French speaking wife
>she claimed that it wasn't French. Maybe it's Canadian French?

That's a least two native speakers who maintain that it isn't French. We have
several who recall learning it from Warner Brothers cartoons, and one who made
the point that WB picked up many phrases from vaudeville. Someone has posted
that it is a direct translation of a common phrase in German. I think the body
of evidence for a German/Yiddish origin is growing.

Gary Williams

P&DSchultz

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Sep 15, 1998, 3:00:00 AM9/15/98
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Pierre Jelenc wrote:
>
> P&DSchultz <schu...@erols.com> writes:
> >
> > But if people think "C'est à rire" is French, then it could be the
> > source. It appears in on-line French texts which I search on. And
>
> I don't see any hit.
>
> > apparently a funhouse room in a 1904 Coney Island amusement area was
> > called "C'est à Rire". Besides, I usually hear the phrase said with
> > a French accent. It doesn't have a Yiddish feeling for me at all.
>
> It just isn't French. On the other hand it *is* German.
>
> (In French, "c'est *pour* rire" means "it's not the real thing", "it's a
> dry run".)
>

Hits at: http://abbc.com/islam/french/livres/verit3.htm ("C'est a rire.
J'ai visité Auschwitz et Birkenau en 1975 et en 1976. Je possède une
abondante documentation photographique ...")

http://204.211.129.11/books/drnmy10.txt
("Do you remember Jervis's holding forth one evening for an
hour or so about our doctor's beautiful humanitarian ideals?
C'EST A RIRE! The man merely regards the J. G. H. as his own
private laboratory,..."

http://naid.sppsr.ucla.edu/coneyisland/articles/dreamland.htm
("There was the Funny Room, sometimes known as "C'est a Rire," and
Peter F. Daily's Parisian Novelty.")

I can well believe that none of this is real French, but as I said,
that's irrelevant. If people think it's French, or even pseudo-French,
then for imitating or mocking purposes, it's French. I think it's where
"It is to laugh" came from.
//P. Schultz

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