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Here’s a bit of dialogue which I literally translated from Russian:

― You should get a girlfriend!

― Girlfriend? Didn’t hear. . . .

The idea of the answer is to self-ironically point out not only that the guy doesn’t have a girlfriend, but also that he hasn’t even heard of their existence.

In Russian, it is a kind of idiom. What is the right way to express a similar idea in English?

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"Irony: (MW3UDE) 1 a : feigned ignorance designed to confound or provoke an antagonist : DISSIMULATION". // Some ironic responses if said with a straight face: "'Girlfriend'? Never heard the word. (What's it mean?)" or "'Girlfriend'? Can girls really be friends?" or "'Girlfriend'? What's a girl?" or "'Girlfriend'? I can always mute & toggle my PC to 'hibernate' or 'sleep' mode. What about a girlfriend?" – user21497 Nov 16 '12 at 7:51
I'm pretty sure that this pretty new and already deadbeat meme is actually direct translation of corresponding English "never heard of it". – Oleg V. Volkov Nov 16 '12 at 10:40
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Another idiomatic option (at least in British English) would be:

You should get yourself a girlfriend.

Sorry, never heard of it.

The use of the impersonal pronoun "it" is part of the humour; it indicates that the speaker not only has no girlfriend, but doesn't even understand the concept that a "girlfriend" might be a type of human being.

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A corresponding conversation in English might go something like this:

You should get yourself a girlfriend!

A girlfriend? What’s that?!

It’s more sarcasm than irony, and the reply is often “deadpanned”.

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If you want to turn the sarcasm back on the person giving obvious advice, you could say something like

A girlfriend? I didn't get the memo.


A girlfriend? I must have missed a meeting!


A girlfriend? Gee, why didn't I think of that?

Any of these implies that the advice is so obvious that the person giving it is either stupid or callous (or both) for bringing up a topic that is already causing you significant discomfort.

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