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Non-English languages and the translation of sarcasm
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rozwado1
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Mar 14, 2008, 08:09 PM
 
I hangout with a bunch of Latin Americans down here, and even the ones that have been here for 10+ years still have a hard time understanding sarcastic humor. I usually get a courtesy laugh, followed by an awkward 'I dont' get it'. I'm wondering if this is strictly a middle/south american thing or if people from other cultures have the same issues with American humor.

Also, any ideas on how to bring them a better understanding of it? (Think Borat learning the ...NOT! jokes)
     
Chuckit
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Mar 14, 2008, 08:19 PM
 
I've had a couple of Japanese friends who didn't get sarcasm either. Most hispanic people I know do, but I guess maybe they've been here from a young enough age.
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Mar 14, 2008, 08:59 PM
 
Absolutely perfect.

YouTube - Hamburger pizza
     
Oisín
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Mar 14, 2008, 09:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by rozwado1 View Post
I hangout with a bunch of Latin Americans down here, and even the ones that have been here for 10+ years still have a hard time understanding sarcastic humor. I usually get a courtesy laugh, followed by an awkward 'I dont' get it'. I'm wondering if this is strictly a middle/south american thing or if people from other cultures have the same issues with American humor.

Also, any ideas on how to bring them a better understanding of it? (Think Borat learning the ...NOT! jokes)
Different cultures have different basic humoristic traits. It’s one of the hardest things to learn in a language, even when you’re living in the middle of it, because you’ll always have the sense of humour you were brought up to have.

I have no trouble understanding American humour, since it (as well as British and German humour, despite their internal differences) are quite similar to the sense of humour that prevails in Scandinavia. Go a bit further east, though, and I start to lose it. I don’t get Russian humour. It’s just not funny to me. Chinese humour—even worse. I can be in a room full of Chinese people. A person says something funny (apparently) and every single person in the room doubles up with laugher. Except me. I’m left wondering what the hell in that completely straightforward declarative sentence could possibly be so funny.

I managed to make an entire room of Chinese people double up with laughter once myself, actually. We were eating dinner, one of them suddenly said something like, “Hey, there’s no more bread”. I replied, “No, I ate the last one”, and everyone immediately starting laughing uncontrollably. They couldn’t even explain why they thought it was so funny, they just did. I’m still utterly puzzled about that.


Just like people from South America will often not ‘get’ your American humour, I suspect you’d find yourself often not ‘getting’ their humour, if they’re just talking amongst themselves. They won’t be likely to be able to bring out that humour in English, though: humour is a very language-constricted thing, it’s extremely hard to convey properly in other languages.
     
moonmonkey
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Mar 14, 2008, 09:40 PM
 
It doesn't even translate well between English speaking counties, Americans have problems knowing when Brits are being sarcastic (delivered with a lack of emotion and then sometimes a single facial muscle is employed two seconds after the delivery), Brits have problems with Australia's (say the direct opposite of what it is+swearword) brand of sarcasm.
     
ghporter
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Mar 14, 2008, 09:54 PM
 
Context, context, context. In this case, cultural context is the most important feature. And since people who natively speak different languages think in those languages, the whole structure of metaphor, simile, etc. is completely unconscious-and probably not really translatable. Darn frustrating. Much like the kind of vulgarities that are common within a language but don't really translate. In Spanish, it's a really nasty thing to call someone a "pubic hair" (pendejo), but aside from the fact that they get in the way or get caught in clothing now and then, what's so horrible about a pubic hair? I just don't get it, and having to memorize such things slows down my already slow process of accumulating Spanish.

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rozwado1  (op)
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Mar 15, 2008, 01:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Oisín View Post
Just like people from South America will often not ‘get’ your American humour, I suspect you’d find yourself often not ‘getting’ their humour
True. Did you ever try to watch Telemundo/Univision comedy? It's like pulling teeth.

But that's not why I watch...
     
ghporter
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Mar 15, 2008, 04:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by rozwado1 View Post
True. Did you ever try to watch Telemundo/Univision comedy? It's like pulling teeth.
Aside from the cheesecake that is usually not as well done as that FHM picture you posted, I agree: those "comedies", in particular the "funny" parts on their variety shows (Sábado Gigante for one) is nauseating. The overweight grown men portraying simpleminded juvenile girls just makes me retch. I remember Laugh-In bits where the guys dressed up in drag (The Farkle Family bits, for example), but they seem to have been done a lot better. I truly "just don't get it."

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rozwado1  (op)
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Mar 15, 2008, 06:52 PM
 
So does anybody have any ideas on how to remedy? I'm thinking about starting them off with Seinfeld or Arrested Development showings, then pointing out why it's funny (see family guy clip).
     
Doofy
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Mar 15, 2008, 07:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by rozwado1 View Post
So does anybody have any ideas on how to remedy? I'm thinking about starting them off with Seinfeld or Arrested Development showings, then pointing out why it's funny (see family guy clip).
Except that neither Arrested Development or Family Guy is actually funny.

Try some Red Dwarf or Blackadder?
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
TETENAL
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Mar 15, 2008, 07:22 PM
 
I never understood why Seinfeld was supposed to be funny. All it was was extremely painful to watch. Is that what Americans call "sarcastic humor"?
     
Oisín
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Mar 15, 2008, 08:12 PM
 
Originally Posted by TETENAL View Post
I never understood why Seinfeld was supposed to be funny. All it was was extremely painful to watch. Is that what Americans call "sarcastic humor"?
Here, I have to agree. Seinfeld is not funny, just atrocious.
     
ghporter
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Mar 15, 2008, 08:31 PM
 
I'd go with Doofy's suggestion before Seinfeld. And add Monty Python to boot. 'Course, I actually get most of Monty Python, so that may have something to do with my preference...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
turtle777
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Mar 15, 2008, 08:48 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Try some Red Dwarf or Blackadder?
I LOVE Black Adder. But it's definitely not working for most Americans. Heck, most Americans don't even know that Rowan did stuff besides Mr. Bean.

-t
     
Oisín
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Mar 15, 2008, 08:51 PM
 
What? How can Blackadder “not work” for anyone? That’s unpossible!
     
moonmonkey
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Mar 15, 2008, 08:58 PM
 
I think you mean 'inpossible'.
     
turtle777
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:00 PM
 
Btw, what's the right spelling, Black Adder or Blackadder. Google seems divided over this.

IMDB and BBC go by Black Adder, wiki by Blackadder ? ( Blackadder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

Edit: WTF is 'NN doing with the wiki URL ?

-t
( Last edited by turtle777; Mar 15, 2008 at 09:09 PM. )
     
richwig83
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by moonmonkey View Post
I think you mean 'inpossible'.
I think you mean impossible!!
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turtle777
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by Oisín View Post
What? How can Blackadder “not work” for anyone? That’s unpossible!
Originally Posted by moonmonkey View Post
I think you mean 'inpossible'.
Originally Posted by richwig83 View Post
I think you mean impossible!!


Nice played.

-t
     
Oisín
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:12 PM
 
Btw, what's the right spelling, Black Adder or Blackadder. Google seems divided over this.
If you look closely at the pictures on IMDb, you can see that so does the series itself. Some of the covers have “(The) Black Adder”, with the a clearly capitalised and set apart; others have “(The) Blackadder” (the words are separated over three lines, but ‘Blackadder’ is hyphenated).

I think you mean 'inpossible'.
You say tomayto, I say potahto.

I think you mean impossible!!
Of course I don’t, that’s not even a word.
     
turtle777
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by Oisín View Post
You say tomayto, I say potahto.

Of course I don’t, that’s not even a word.
Oisin, you just failed miserably at getting a word play attempt. You should have been expecting this in a thread like that.

-t
     
Doofy
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:16 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Btw, what's the right spelling, Black Adder or Blackadder. Google seems divided over this.

IMDB and BBC go by Black Adder, wiki by Blackadder ? ( Blackadder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

Edit: WTF is 'NN doing with the wiki URL
I'd go with the BBC version. After all, they made it.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
richwig83
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Oisín View Post
You say tomayto, I say potahto.
I don't say tomayto, as its actually pronounced Tomato!

.... lets call the whole thing off!!!!!!
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turtle777
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
I'd go with the BBC version. After all, they made it.
Funny, because earlier, you didn't

-t
     
Oisín
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Oisin, you just failed miserably at getting a word play attempt. You should have been expecting this in a thread like that.

-t
No, I got it, I just tried to one-up it back.
     
turtle777
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Mar 15, 2008, 09:56 PM
 
[QUOTE=Oisín;3622206]
Originally Posted by Oisín View Post
No, I got it, I just tried to one-up it back.
Ah, I see, you used Chinese sarcasm.

-t
     
Doofy
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Mar 15, 2008, 10:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Funny, because earlier, you didn't
I know. I hate the BBC.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
Face Ache
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Mar 15, 2008, 10:28 PM
 
It goes...

The Black Adder
Blackadder II
Blackadder III
The Blackadder Goes Forth.


FYI.
     
Railroader
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Mar 15, 2008, 10:57 PM
 
You guys are funny.

[/sarcasm]
     
turtle777
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Mar 15, 2008, 11:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
You guys are funny.

[/sarcasm]
Chinese, South-American or North-American sarcasm ?

Please be more specific.

-t
     
brassplayersrock²
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Mar 15, 2008, 11:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Oisín
You say tomayto, I say potahto.
Originally Posted by richwig83 View Post
I don't say tomayto, as its actually pronounced Tomato!

.... lets call the whole thing off!!!!!!
if you two aren't going study anymore; richwig83..... *holds up my fraternity pin*... will you do me the honor?
     
Oisín
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Mar 16, 2008, 12:03 AM
 
Originally Posted by brassplayersrock² View Post
if you two aren't going study anymore; richwig83..... *holds up my fraternity pin*... will you do me the honor?
Study? Study what?

*blinks*
     
LegendaryPinkOx
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Mar 16, 2008, 03:12 AM
 
The reproductive organs of sheep...
are you lightfooted?
     
Oisín
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by LegendaryPinkOx View Post
The reproductive organs of sheep...
In that case, richwig, go right ahead and do alex whatever honours it is he’s asking you to do him.
( Last edited by Oisín; Mar 16, 2008 at 10:33 AM. Reason: Multiple users in one thread should be disallowed.)
     
brassplayersrock²
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:27 AM
 
i don't see no small shell on me Oisín
     
turtle777
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:31 AM
 
This thread makes sense.

-t
     
brassplayersrock²
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:32 AM
 
and let it be known! the turtle does not abide!
     
Oisín
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:33 AM
 
Originally Posted by brassplayersrock² View Post
i don't see no small shell on me Oisín
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
     
brassplayersrock²
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:42 AM
 
me neither usually
     
turtle777
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:46 AM
 
This thread got caught in the absurdity of itself.

-t
     
brassplayersrock²
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:48 AM
 
sarcasm can do that to threads
     
Oisín
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Mar 16, 2008, 10:48 AM
 
Even if it is Chinese sarcasm.

(Where is Chris_V’s legendary Sar Chasm when we need it?)
     
Faust
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Mar 16, 2008, 11:26 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Except that neither Arrested Development or Family Guy is actually funny.

Try some Red Dwarf or Blackadder?

I have to agree with Doofy. A much much better choice than Seinfeld or Family whatsit. Geez, I think the latter two are painfully unfunny and yawn-inducing.

All that aside, you can't explain to someone why something is funny. Either someone finds something funny or they don't.
     
Laminar
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Mar 16, 2008, 12:47 PM
 
You guys are just trying to induce the wrath of Jawbone.
     
Chuckit
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Mar 16, 2008, 12:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Except that neither Arrested Development or Family Guy is actually funny.

Try some Red Dwarf or Blackadder?
And if you're going to try Red Dwarf, go for the early stuff. That show seemed like it went on way past the point where they had ideas that were actually funny.
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BigBadWolf
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Mar 21, 2008, 05:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
Btw, what's the right spelling, Black Adder or Blackadder. Google seems divided over this.

IMDB and BBC go by Black Adder, wiki by Blackadder ? ( Blackadder - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

Edit: WTF is 'NN doing with the wiki URL ?

-t
In the first series he calls himself "The Black Adder." (Edmund the Black Adder) Beginning in the second series "Blackadder" is his surname. (Edmund Blackadder)
     
All_Insane
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Mar 22, 2008, 02:50 PM
 
Interesting concept, the cultural differences in understanding humor. I live in a hostel, so I'm surrounded by people of different cultures. One of my German friends seems to have a difficult time understanding sarcasm that's used by Canadians/Americans/Australians/British (for the record, we all seem to get each other's humor -- I haven't noticed any sort of cultural divide there). I thought it was a cultural difference, but another German girl told met that they're very sarcastic in Germany.

And before anyone starts talking about how British humour is more "high brow" than American humour -- browse the Humour section at Waterstone's (or any other major UK bookstore). Top selling books include "Who Sh*t That? A Field Guide to Identifying Feces", "Do Ants Have Arseholes?", "Is It Just Me or Is Everything Sh*t?" (and the sequel "Its Just You, Everything's Not Sh*t").
     
TETENAL
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Mar 22, 2008, 03:34 PM
 
Here is an example of excellent German humour:

"Here please, take a seat. I will call the gentlemen."

Das schiefe Bild

"The madam is coming soon."
"The picture is crooked!"
( Last edited by TETENAL; Mar 22, 2008 at 03:42 PM. )
     
turtle777
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Mar 22, 2008, 03:35 PM
 
No access from the US. WTF ?

-t
     
TETENAL
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Mar 22, 2008, 03:43 PM
 
Changed the link to another version. Try again.
     
 
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