An English builder is keen to implement the EU’s policy of job mobility, so he advertises a job in an international trade paper. Three applicants turn up: a Frenchman, a German and an Irishman. When the builder interviews them he points out that a basic knowledge of English is essential, especially of terms used in the building trade, so he has devised a little test. He asks each one of them the same question: “ Can you explain to me the difference between ‘girder’ and ‘joist’?”
The Frenchman shrugs his shoulders, admitting that he does not understand the terms. The German also admits that he has no idea.
Before the builder puts the question to the Irishman, he says “I know you speak English, but in the interests of equal treatment I have to ask you the same question as the other two: “What is the difference between ‘girder’ and ‘joist’?”
The Irishman replies, “Sure, everyone knows that. Goethe wrote ‘Faust’ and Joyce wrote ‘Ulysses’.”