"Not funny 'ha-ha'", what does Siri mean?

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5

When I say to Siri, the virtual assistant from Apple, "Ok, Google," or "Hey Cortana," Siri replies:

Very funny. I mean, not funny "ha-ha", but funny.

I don't know how I should interpret this sentence. From what I understand, Siri found my remark "funny", although it wasn't funny in the sense that it makes one laugh aloud. I'm thinking of a few interpretations that seem possible:

  • It isn't funny in the sense of "causing someone to laugh", but it has good, more subtle and refined humour.
  • It's funny. It doesn't make me laugh though. I'm saying this ironically.
  • It's naturally funny and doesn't require any artificial laughter to be made.

I'm pretty sure Siri doesn't like me talking to her like this, so I feel the second should be the closest, but I'm at a loss for precise interpretation. Dictionaries at hand don't list any specific idiom for "ha-ha."

What does this sentence mean? Also, is this an idiom that has specific meaning (rather than rhetorical invention that should be understood from context)?

Yosh

Posted 2018-01-26T13:10:47.950

Reputation: 787

11I strongly disagree that the meaning of "ha-ha funny" is a general reference question for an EFL learner. I don’t think the ease with which a native speaker can find a definition is relevant to the general reference closure reason on ELL. And I believe that because Yosh added enough context to show us where their attempt to find an answer went wrong. If this question were simply "what's the meaning of 'funny ha-ha'?" I would vote to close it, but I don't think this question should be closed. – ColleenV – 2018-01-26T13:21:34.313

I seem to recall this came from a variety show sketch (possibly Saturday Night Live) and originated with comic Chris Eliott who is known for a particular style of weird humor. The skit was based on things being laugh-funny, and things being make-you-uncomfortable-funny. The catchphrase for the the sketch was "Funny haha, or funny weird?" It quickly became a meme. imo, the meaning per Siri is slightly different, because of the context. :)

– DukeZhou – 2018-01-27T03:09:19.520

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@DukeZhou - wiktionary has citations going back to 1936, so that's clearly not the primary origin. There is a distinct gap between 1953 and 2002, though, and I recall there being something similar to your description (and I think in late 80s/early 90s, which fits with Chris Eliott being involved) that may have repopularised it.

– Jules – 2018-01-27T11:22:16.887

Answers

63

The two meanings of 'funny' when spoken by humans are traditionally summarised as "funny ha ha" - makes you laugh - and "funny peculiar" - as in "the milk tastes funny. You'd better not drink it".

JeremyC

Posted 2018-01-26T13:10:47.950

Reputation: 5 493

Thank you. My dictionary does have 'funny-ha-ha' -- I thought I was looking for a specific usage for 'ha ha', which unconsciously restricted my searching behaviour, and apparently I was looking at the wroing side. – Yosh – 2018-01-26T13:30:05.973

3Yes, funny ha-ha or funny odd or peculiar etc. The funny that is not haha can be expressed in more than one way. But I essentially agree here. – Lambie – 2018-01-26T14:44:43.257

18I don't believe this is the right answer. I read it as "this is funny, but not funny enough to laugh out loud". Of course the whole reply is sarcastic, but that doesn't mean Siri tries to assign different meanings to the word "funny". – Mr Lister – 2018-01-26T15:25:10.743

20@MrLister "Not funny-'ha-ha'" has a very specific meaning—it is not about being only slightly humorous, but about being strange/weird/peculiar/odd etc. I would always interpret a statement like "You're funny. Not funny 'ha-ha', but..." as an insult, meaning roughly "I see what you tried to do there, and I scoff at it." – 1006a – 2018-01-26T16:27:44.883

5@1006a Yes it does have a specific meaning but in this particular context it seems more likely that this specific meaning was not intended. – Konrad Rudolph – 2018-01-26T19:02:29.280

1@KonradRudolph - I suspect that this (funny strange) is exactly the meaning that the human author of this Easter egg intended. This response is canned, as are the responses to "Hey Siri! I see a little silhouetto of a man, I see a little silhouetto of a man", "Hey Siri! How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?", "Hey Siri! Will you marry me?", and many, many others. – David Hammen – 2018-01-26T23:35:33.593

8@KonradRudolph "Not funny 'ha-ha'" is a very common phrase. It has only one meaning; that the word funny is used to mean peculiar, and not humor. Using it in another context would be, to say the least, very uncommon. – Rob – 2018-01-27T05:46:41.293

1@KonradRudolph We would expect Siri to be insulted by being confused with a different voice activated digital assistant. If she's insulted, then she wouldn't want to compliment the insult at all. Saying the insult is funny but not funny enough to make her laugh is still at bit of a compliment, while saying it's strange and not humorous is a completely appropriate response. It's also a take on an old insult that can be humorous to some people. You can say, "Hey, you're funny!" to someone and they think it's a compliment until you follow it with, "Not funny 'ha ha', just funny". As in weird. – Todd Wilcox – 2018-01-27T06:23:44.027

1@ToddWilcox Im interpreting it as irony (Siri is said to be acerbic). Compare "Oh that's funny. I'm not laughing but it's funny", which is used to indicate that the person is being ironic and the "joke" wasn't funny at all. Same here. – Konrad Rudolph – 2018-01-27T10:16:47.720

3@KonradRudolph If your interpretation is correct, then Siri is the only... thing I've ever heard use the phrase in question with that meaning. Saying "that's/you're funny. Not funny 'ha-ha', just funny" is fairly common, and it's always been intended to mean "you're weird, not humorous" every time I've heard it. But we can't be certain without talking to whatever Apple engineer or designer crafted the response. – Todd Wilcox – 2018-01-27T12:27:13.033

1@ToddWilcox Right, but in all those instances it's paraphrase for "that's odd", and I maintain that this simply doesn't fit well here — certainly not compared to irony. There's nothing odd in saying "hi Cortana", it's just a lame attempt at humour that Siri calls out. – Konrad Rudolph – 2018-01-27T12:34:04.820

2@KonradRudolph The other interpretation, that Siri is insulted and is saying that the joke is "off" or "bad" (connotations of the word "funny") makes at least as much, if not more, sense. Again, every other time says "That's not funny 'ha ha', just funny", that's what they mean. – Todd Wilcox – 2018-01-27T12:42:09.193

@ToddWilcox I've never heard this particular usage and it's much less common than you seem to think. Every usage I can find (see e.g. https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/funny_ha-ha) uses it for something "weird", not to say that a joke was "off". It's not used to put down a bad joke. And if it were, it'd be by sarcasm.

– Konrad Rudolph – 2018-01-27T13:12:30.643

1@KonradRudolph In the US, "weird" is a negative critique. One meaning of "weird" is "off". If you're in school and someone says, "you're weird", it's very hurtful (usually). – Todd Wilcox – 2018-01-27T13:20:43.240

@ToddWilcox Come on, that was clearly not the meaning I was going for, in context (nor in the examples included in the link). – Konrad Rudolph – 2018-01-27T13:23:42.143

49

In context, Siri is saying that you've made a joke but (s)he's not amused by it, in the same general way that a human would respond if you called them by the name of a similar-looking person. It's quite a nuanced sentence though, so native English speakers would interpret it in a variety of ways (with the common element being that it's not worthy of laughter).

Jim Driscoll

Posted 2018-01-26T13:10:47.950

Reputation: 591

Exactly this - its like calling your class teacher "Mum/Mom/Mother" Doubly-so if you call your male teacher "Mum" – Criggie – 2018-01-27T09:31:49.300

1+1 for the part in parenthesis. People seem to be overthinking this, as if Siri is saying the funny isn't humorous. If I hear something extremely funny, I may burst into loud laughter, even spitting out whatever liquid might be in my mouth at the time (which might be funny itself). If I hear a lame joke, I might (sarcastically) say "Ha. Ha." If what I hear isn't even that funny, then the amount of funny might just be so extremely small that the joke was a very lousy joke that was not even worth saying "Ha Ha". – TOOGAM – 2018-01-27T16:29:22.583

11

I think there is a more shaded meaning to the response than "not funny" or pure sarcasm. The response "very funny" is a normal response to a joke question or statement. In your case, saying "Hi Cortana" is clearly intended as a joke, and Siri correctly responds (sarcastically) "very funny".


Let me give an example. Sometimes I will notice it is raining and say to my wife:

Are you going to hang the washing out? (joke question)

Her response:

Very funny!

The answer therefore acknowledges a (lame) attempt at humour. We both know that the question was not intended literally, and that the answer therefore is not intended literally either. It isn't really sarcasm as such, it is "I acknowledge your attempt at humour".


So, when you address Siri as Cortana her response of "very funny" is acknowledging your joking with her, and then she goes on to explain "not funny ha-ha" because Siri doesn't really do inflections, and without that explanation you might think Siri genuinely thought the remark was actually funny.

Nick Gammon

Posted 2018-01-26T13:10:47.950

Reputation: 927

1No, it's not sarcasm. It's a play on the word funny because funny has two meanings. Siri is clarifying that she doesn't mean funny as in humorous, she means funny as in strange, weird, or phony. – Todd Wilcox – 2018-01-27T06:25:28.780

2'Very Funny' absolutely is sarcasm. The rest of the sentence is not. – Ryan The Leach – 2018-01-29T02:23:53.393

1

A web search finds that this is the answer that Siri gave to someone saying "Okay Google" instead of "Hey Siri". If Siri was a human, saying this would be a rather unfunny attempt to say something funny; a human would be insulted by being addressed by the wrong name. Especially that name.

And the answer is what a human might say. "Not funny. Ha ha." would be telling the other person that their attempt at being funny failed miserably.

gnasher729

Posted 2018-01-26T13:10:47.950

Reputation: 2 754

8You don't really need a web search to find that out: it's in the question. – Peter Taylor – 2018-01-27T11:08:51.753