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Poll: Do you find humor expressed in your second language funny?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 17:31
Nov 15, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you find humor expressed in your second language funny?".

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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:31
English to Russian
+ ...
Sometimes I can't understand English humor Nov 15, 2009

It surprises me greatly, but sometimes I find American jokes absolutely devoid of sense and not funny at all.


Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:31
English to Japanese
+ ...
English Nov 15, 2009

Yes, definitely. Especially puns, black humors, dirty and offensive jokes and remarks, including racial discrimination and sexism. They're more colorful than in my native language.

One non-offensive example: When Price Harry was caught a few years ago smoking pod or necking with his girlfriend (I forgot which), the top news on the English tabloid "The Sun" was "Dirty Harry". That gave me a laugh.


Kristel Kiesel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:31
Italian to English
+ ...
Not when an appreciation of sarcasm is lacking Nov 15, 2009

This is an interesting question! When I was first learning Italian, I had developed a strong appreciation for sarcasm that was heavily influenced by British comedians. I remember feeling very disappointed when I brought some Jack Handy quotes to school. My Italian classmates took them completely seriously and thought they were morbid. I liked this one:

“Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself:

"Mankind." Basically, it's made up of two separate words - "mank" and "ind."

What do these words mean? It's a mystery, and that's why so is mankind.”

Not that the Italians are completely lacking an appreciation of sarcasm. I just think they use it much less often than the average English speaker.

I also remember the first time I ever understood a joke in Italian. My friends told the joke, and then we walked around a park for an hour while they dissected every line. As they got to the end of the punch line, I finally laughed. It was a dirty joke, of course, something about a priest and a confessional. I'm sure the same joke has been told in English.

The Japanese are not very sarcastic, either. Nor do they necessarily take pranks at work well, but that's another story for another time!

My thanks to the asker of this question. I'm looking forward to hearing what others have to say.

[Edited at 2009-11-15 09:17 GMT]


Anke Formann  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:31
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Black English Humour Nov 15, 2009

I love the English Humour, especially the way Monty Python or Fawlty Towers express it.

But on top of all, there is Rowan Atkinson starring in the "Blackadder" series.
The way he intelligently plays with words, his way of expressing things, his sarcasm is something that still makes me cry with laughter, even after having seen all episodes a million times and knowing them by heart.


Trinh Do  Identity Verified
Member (2007)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
I like British and American humo(u)r Nov 15, 2009

Yes, I like Get Smart; Fawlty Towers and Mr. Bean/Rowan Atkinson are my favourites and don't find any racial offense in it.

It strikes me French and German humour are not so well-known.


Anke Formann  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:31
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
German Humour Nov 15, 2009

@Trinh Do: Maybe the reason for German humour not being mentioned is the fact that it does not exist?

Fresh fruit only to be thrown at me pleaseicon_wink.gif

[Bearbeitet am 2009-11-15 13:59 GMT]


svenfrade  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:31
French to German
+ ...
German humour ... Nov 15, 2009

seems to imply belittling others and is mostly terribly crude, at least in my opinion.

I love British humour, good puns and subtle sarcasm ...


Local time: 04:31
English to Arabic
In Arabic Nov 15, 2009

hi everybody ,

I think telling jokes is culturally bound. what makes peoples of a nation laugh could be totally meaningless to another!


[Edited at 2009-11-15 11:08 GMT]


Amy Duncan (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:31
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Brazilians are funny Nov 15, 2009

I find Brazilian humor, especially carioca humor, hilarious. Here in Rio, people like to make fun of everything, including themselves, and it's all in good fun. I also find Brazilian swearwords funny. And even things that have become so mainstream that Brazilians don't see them as funny, I find funny, such as the name for a strapless dress or top: "tomara que caia" (hope it falls). You see this term in stores, catalogs and online. It always cracks me up. Also the reference to men's boxer shorts as "samba canção" (old-style samba song, implying that only old guys wear boxers)...the first time I heard someone announce that over a loudspeaker in a clothing store, I nearly lost it. I'm sure people were looking at me as if I were nuts!

But you have to be careful joking around with people here in Rio, because they're very sensitive and can take something you meant as a joke, as an insult.


Maria Drangel  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:31
English to Swedish
+ ...
"Other" Nov 15, 2009

I normally appreciate British humor a lot. I think it is close to the Swedish sense of humor, a lot of irony and pretty crazy.

German humor I very seldom find funny. It seems to be a lot about naked bodies, farting, "shit" and such things. I simly don´t find that amusing. I also noticed that when I tried using wordgames I had made up myself, people generally didn´t get it, would correct me, thinking I didn´t quite understand what I was saying, where as English speakers seem to have a different taste, which to me seems more sophisticated, when it comes to humor.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:31
Member (2007)
+ ...
Depends what type of humour Nov 15, 2009

I find most mainstream French humour (the type you see on the TV) rather boring. When you've seen one bloke with facial hair dressed up as a cleaning woman with a fag in his mouth, speaking in a high, droney voice into an imaginary telephone, you've seen them all! There's too much samey stuff like that, and clowning type humour - I never could stand clowns, even as a kid at the circus.

But the "real" French people I meet and have a joke with are sometimes more originalicon_smile.gif and any country that can produce a Jacques Tati (yes, I know he wasn't 100% French) can't be humourless.

People have mentioned the Germans being humourless, something I've heard said about the Dutch, too, and even thought before living there. The Dutch never go in for clowning and farce, and I can't comment on professional comics as I never had enough of the language to understand, but Dutch people aren't without humour - they just await the moment and then come out with wonderfully dry, humourous observations. Normally worth waiting for.

As for TV humour - thank heavens they screen British shows on French TV!


Lutz Molderings  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:31
German to English
+ ...
not a fan of German humour Nov 15, 2009

inkweaver wrote:

seems to imply belittling others and is mostly terribly crude, at least in my opinion.

I love British humour, good puns and subtle sarcasm ...

Agree, inkweaver.
I think Brits are very good at dry humour.


Jon O (X)  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:31
Dutch to English
+ ...
comedy dubbing nightmare Nov 15, 2009

I live in Austria, not the funniest of places to say the least, but what makes it worse is when they show good British or US comedies on TV here they dub them into German, thereby effectively ruining them for me. I'm not saying one can't be funny in German (despite abundant evidence to the contrary) but why does German-language TV have such an aversion to subtitles, which is not the case in the Netherlands, Belgium or Scandinavia in my experience?

[Edited at 2009-11-15 17:23 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-11-15 17:26 GMT]


Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:31
Member (2009)
French to English
Sometimes Nov 15, 2009

The French seem to be overly fond of puns or " les jeux de mots." As an example, I provide the name of a bar in Montbard - "Le Mon Bar." It was also a round bar which seems to up the kitsch factor significantly.

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