If anyone has been to S.E. Asian countries there is a familiar English phrase,

Same, same but different.

It always brings a smile to my face when I hear it as you kind of know what the person is trying to say (for example, it's similar) however I don't think the phrase makes any sense.

Or, does it make sense? Why is this nonsensical phrase so prevalent?

  • There's a Polish (I think) joke that goes like this: "I just bought a car." "Really? What color is it?" "Well, do you remember those beautiful, breathtaking sunrises over the Vistula that you and I enjoyed when we were kids?" "Yes." "Exactly like that, only it's green." – Ricky Nov 21 '15 at 10:06
  • Right. The correct phrase is "same thing only different". – Hot Licks Nov 21 '15 at 12:39
  • 1
    Same difference – anonymous Nov 21 '15 at 17:45
  • What @anonymous said: same diff. – Drew Nov 22 '15 at 2:13
  • Not having heard S.E. Asian English, I can't be sure, but for the closest American phrase I suspect "it is and it isn't." If some asks, "is this the same thing as this," the reply "it is and it isn't" denotes that it is the same in those respects the querist had in mind, but it differs in ways the respondent is about to explain. – sacheie Jan 4 '16 at 22:39

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