Hi,

Would you explain the underlined part? I know all the words and the collocation but can't make sense out of it.

I had no job at the time and was living off the cruel joke I referred to as my savings.

Thank you,

m
1 2
'The cruel joke I referred to as my savings' means that the money he has saved is so little that it is humorous to call it 'savings'.

I had no job and was paying my expenses with (= living off) my ridiculously small savings.
ohhh, I see, then I'll make sense.

Thank you,

m
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Hi,

I am not sure what I'm expecting from you because you already answered to this question. But I can't help but wonder, it should be "I was living off my savings I referred to as the cruel joke." if I understood your explanation correctly.

For instance, this is from a English-English dictionary:

He always refers to the house as his refuge. And this is quite understandable.

"I referred to the cruel joke as my savings" sounds incorrect to me.

Would you explain a bit more?

m
I was living off the cruel joke (that) I referred to as my savings.

The 'that' clause is restrictive, thus 'my savings' defines 'cruel joke'. It is a joke because he has almost no savings really. It is a joke to call it any sort of substantial savings. It is cruel because he has little savings, hence little to spend.
Oh, so he was literally, in a way, living off the cruel joke, not savings.

Thank you.

m
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I don't think you've got it yet. He has very little money in his savings account. It is a joke to call it 'savings'.
I exactly do understand what you are explaining but to be honest as I try to translated the two sentences below I comes up with the same Japanese line, meaning there should be some confusion in my head.

I had no job at the time and was living off the cruel joke I referred to as my savings.

I had no job at the time and was living off my savings I referred to as the cruel joke.

The expression "living off the cruel joke" does not make much sense to me because one cannot live off a joke.

Even if all he has is two dollars, savings are savings. And he can live off the money. And also I understand it's silly to call the money savings, which sounds cruel and like a joke. I think I understood you correctly but still, I had no job at the time and was living off my savings I referred to as the cruel joke. sounds more right to me.

I appreciate your help.

m
In English we can write it both ways and the reader still easily understands what is intended. However, only the first makes it a humorous line.
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