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"Pontian humour"

newspaper feature
article illustration

ink drawing

© David John 1985
Pontian humour illustration by David John  

"Pontian humour"

newspaper article illustration, ink drawing

Pontians are the Greeks of "Pontos" on the south-eastern shores of the Black Sea, which is now part of Turkey (the adjective Pontic is often used for things Pontian). Greeks colonists settled here in ancient times, and over the centuries have they have become increasingly isolated from the mainstream of Greek culture. Mostly farmers and fishermen, they have their own distinct customs, dialects and music.

They are the butt of many jokes in Greece, similar to the jokes told about Irishmen by the English and of the East Frieslanders in Germany. It is a type of humour practiced in many cultures, where the objects are characterized as dimwitted, earthy yokels. Hence, the Pontian woman who is given a washing machine can think of no better use for it than to house her chickens (inside the house), while she continues to do her washing by hand. She is undoubtedly scrubbing away with a huge cake of olive oil soap. I couldn't resist having her hang her pesky husband out to dry. She's obviously not so daft after all. As a disclaimer, I must add that this was not intended as an insult to husbands.

Such jokes are often interchangeable from one culture to another. While we often can't help ourselves laughing at these stories, modern sensibilities and political correctness force us to draw the line at offensive or rascist slurs. Let's raise a glass of retsina to the Pontians, their chickens and their screechy bagpipes.
  Hung out to dry
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