Some things are very readily associated with language learning: textbooks, conjugation tables and embarrassment are a few things that automatically come to mind.
But if you’re really committed to learning a new language, it’s worthwhile to understand the sense of humor that surrounds the language. There’s a big difference between textbook French and colloquial French, and as far as easily accessible, of-the-moment windows into foreign culture go, memes are basically modernized flashcards.
Here are a few foreign language memes, presented for your entertainment — and a little bit of explanation to go with them, so you can feel smart when you tweet about them.
Lady Reportera (Mexico)
Lady Reportera (Lady Reporter) took off in Mexico last year when a reporter from TV Azteca was seen being carried by two locals during her coverage of the floods in Puebla to avoid wetting her shoes.
— Sony Mejía (@SoySonyMejia) June 28, 2016
Naturally, the internet is the internet, and people were quick to photoshop #LadyReportera into a variety of new situations: like the friendly jog that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto shared.
Forever Outraged (Germany)
This meme became a popular way to poke fun at the statements of Germany’s various Central Councils, which often go on record in the news for being “outraged.” This caption roughly translates to “The Central Council of the Tile Table is indignant.”
Preved, Medved (Russia)
“Preved Medved,” which is a deliberately misspelled way of saying “hello bear” in Russian (think: doge and LOLcats), actually started in the U.S., according to Cracked. As the legend goes, actor John Lurie made a silly painting featuring a bear surprising a couple, er, “frolicking” in the woods. The bear got photoshopped a bunch — and the meme even found its way to the cover of Newsweek.
Norwegian Fry (Norway)
It’s often the case that memes know no borders: like this one involving Fry from Futurama, which is usually paired with some version of “Not sure if (blank), or if just (blank).”
This Norwegian version roughly translates to: “Not sure if I hate my job, or if I just hate working.”
Miss Universe Fail (Philippines)
Steve Harvey’s epic Miss Universe fail was heard — and memeified — around the world. Harvey initially announced Miss Colombia as the winner, only to then hand the crown over to Miss Philippines.
This Tagalog meme depicts an imaginary dialog between Miss Philippines and Miss Bulgaria, who’s encouraging the reticent Miss Philippines to “go get it.”
Nice Horse (Sweden)
The LOLcats trope also made it to Sweden. “Snel Hest” is a slightly misspelled version of “snall hast,” which means “nice horse.” Most of the Snel Hest memes involve mathematical depictions of what happens when you add things to the horse, like the one above: “nice horse” + “wheat” + “pat” = “happy horse.”