Well if bird watchers prefer to be called birders, there could be moth mavens who get called moth-ers or mothers. Though — Bill is right — it would be peculiar to miss the familiar reading of female parent.
Is Baldo created in English, or translated? Is there a better-working joke/pun in Spanish that this is attempting to capture in English?
mitch4 - from what I’ve read, Baldo is created in English and later translated (by a third party, not the creators) into Spanish. I think that as you say, the writer thought he saw an amusing misreading/pun and went with it, ignoring the fact that it is a completely unreasonable misreading. That said, I don’t think the misfire is that surprising, as joke misfires in Baldo are not rare - IMHO they are almost universal…
This is actually a very old joke - a young girl goes to check out a book called “Advice for Young Mothers” and is questioned by the librarian as to her motives, and reveals that she is a “moth-er.” I guess librarians these days don’t question what kids read.
I looked at the Spanish version, and it doesn’t make any sense to me - maybe it makes sense as Spanish colloquialisms? In the Spanish version, the book title is “Ser Ama de Casa es Lo Mejor” (which apparently means something like “Being a Housewife is Best”), and Gracie’s comment in the last panel is “Es que pensé que ayudaría a aumentar mi colección de polillas.” (which means something like “I just thought it would help increase my moth collection.”) Not sure why the change from mother to housewife, but I’d guess it is just a weak wordplay strip in English that was more or less literally translated to Spanish and became meaningless.
The creators indicated somewhere (their blog) that the person who translates the strip to Spanish sometimes comes up with a better joke (especially for pun/wordplay strips) because some things work better (or lead to better colloquialisms) in Spanish, but sometimes the translated strip just fails because there is nothing that can be done to make the joke work, and I think that is the case here.
The title didn’t even seem to indicate “young mother” to me - my original impression was that it was a collection of glurgy stories or treacly advice, sort of like the “… Learned in Kindergarten” book. If the cartoonist was going for the joke of James@5 - and it’s the only reading which makes sense - he messed up by shortening the title of the book.
The ‘young mothers’ thing is a completely unrelated (other than being a pun on ‘mothers’).
The reason the librarian is surprised Gracie would check that out is that Gracie’s mother is out of the picture (dead, I believe) - she and Baldo live with their father and his aunt, so that book would at best be unrelatable, at worst, be rubbing salt into a wound. (Probably the former…Gracie doesn’t seem to be too upset by the loss most of the time.)
When you think about a subject a lot, you tend to interpret irrelevant things as if they relate to your subject. I can totally see a passionate “moth-er” miss the “obvious” reading and jump immediately to the favourable interpretation.
@Kamino Neko - In that situation, the librarian comes off as really insensitive. Wouldn’t the librarian’s likely reaction then be to think (to herself) “Poor kid, she’s working through some emotional issues from the loss of her mother”?
Kelex @2… Except those are typical butterfly shapes on the cover, not moths. Their wings are arranged differently. Butterflies generally have 4 wings that are in different quadrants. Moths typically have 4 segments as well, but they tend to overlap enough to look like just two wings. There are several exceptions to these rules though. It even appears as if the moth in her display is actually a butterfly.
I think the punchline in the 4th panel would have been more effective if she had mentioned an insect collection, instead of making it blatantly obvious with “moth”. That would also have eliminated the moth/butterfly issue that Jeff S. correctly observed (@14).
Kids don’t always make the connection between a word that they hear and the same word written down… I remember in high school a classmate who was reading an article aloud called the “S.S. Leopard” the “S.S. Leo-pard”. I still can’t stop myself from thinking “seen” when I see the name “Sean”, even though I know quite well that it sounds like “Shawn”.
Mark Hanson - Sean Bean’s name drives me a little bit bonkers too. From what I find online his birth name was Shaun Bean. He changed it to the Irish spelling of Sean - maybe so people would get confused and then remember it. I have a brother-in-law Sean and a nephew-in-law Shawn so I’m a little confused by the name anyway.