12
$\begingroup$

I took a contest entry written by Seth Brown of Williamstown, MA in 2003, and I converted it into this puzzle.

Disclaimer: Events described in this puzzle are fictional.


A White House stenographer transcribed the following conversation between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu.

Obama: Who is on first?

Netanyahu: Me?

Obama: No, the guy playing first base.

Netanyahu: Me?

Obama: You're the first baseman?

Netanyahu: No, I am asking you. Me?

Obama: Who?

Netanyahu: You mean that man right there?

Obama: He's on first?

Netanyahu: What do you mean? There aren't any females on the team.

Obama: Well then who's on first?

Netanyahu: Me?

Assume that nobody on the team is named "Who", "Me", or "He". With that assumption, the conversation doesn't seem to make any sense. But it actually does make sense. Explain how.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Who's on first! I love that thing $\endgroup$ – d'alar'cop Dec 15 '14 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @d'alar'cop - Seconded. +1. $\endgroup$ – Rand al'Thor Dec 15 '14 at 17:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've been lurking this site for a bit now, I finally made an account just to upvote this. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Telestia Dec 15 '14 at 20:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I downvoted this because most of the puzzle is simply in knowing the right information. Also, the setup honestly doesn't make much sense. It's contrived nature works for a joke, not for a puzzle where you're supposed to explain why people are doing what they are. $\endgroup$ – xnor Dec 17 '14 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ @manshu et al. Since the question (especially the tags) are being edited, and this puzzle has been solved, should we add language or trivia while we're at it? $\endgroup$ – feelinferrety May 20 '16 at 2:28
11
$\begingroup$

The miscommunication is because...

Netanyahu is speaking Hebrew. (Although I don't know why - his English is very good and he spent some of his childhood years in the US).

Specifically:

Me = מי (Hebrew for 'who' or 'whom')
He = היא (Hebrew for 'she' or 'her')
Who = הוא (Hebrew for 'he' or 'him')

The Conversation, as heard by Netanyahu:

Obama: He is on first.
Netanyahu: Who?
Obama: The guy playing first base
Netanyahu: Who?
Obama: You're the first baseman?
Netanyahu: No, I am asking you. who?
Obama: Him!
Netanyahu: You mean that man right there?
Obama: She's on first.
Netanyahu: What do you mean? There aren't any females on the team.
Obama: Well then he's on first?
Netanyahu: Who?

And of course, major props to pacoverflow for dusting off one of the best comedy skits of all time.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Obama's "who"s should be "he"s, no? $\endgroup$ – No. 7892142 Dec 15 '14 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a way to put bullet points or line breaks inside a spoiler tag? I can't figure it out. $\endgroup$ – PopularIsn'tRight Dec 15 '14 at 18:30
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Like so. I also changed Obama's last "who" to the hebrew equivalent. $\endgroup$ – No. 7892142 Dec 15 '14 at 18:32
  • $\begingroup$ @No.7892142 For some reason I assumed HTML wasn't allowed in Markup. Live and learn. Thank you. And yes, Obama's first who should be 'he' - I missed that when retyping. $\endgroup$ – PopularIsn'tRight Dec 15 '14 at 19:17
  • $\begingroup$ @PopularIsn'tRight double space at the end for line breaks $\endgroup$ – somebody Jan 13 '19 at 6:16
11
$\begingroup$

Language barrier.

Who is vocalised as "hu", "hu" in hebrew means "he".
- http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D7%94%D7%95%D7%90
He is vocalised as "hi", "hi" in hebrew means "she" (wacky, right?).
- http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D7%94%D7%99%D7%90
Me is vocalised as "mi", "mi" in hebrew means "who".
- http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%99

With this in mind, the conversation makes sense.

| improve this answer | |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ The third point is incorrect. (I'm sorry for making such a blunt and non-specific answer, but I'm trying not to give a spoiler in the comments). $\endgroup$ – PopularIsn'tRight Dec 15 '14 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Bachrach44 Heh, edited it just as you answered. $\endgroup$ – No. 7892142 Dec 15 '14 at 18:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.