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Friday, November 16, 2007

Telling Jokes in Chinese

Time has an article on differences between expat and HK Jokes that is interesting, even if it's about Cantonese. One of my favorite Doonesbury cartoons is when Ambassador Duke is telling a joke, and his translator tells the Chinese audience to laugh.

There is a lot of culture in jokes, so as a general idea only tell jokes to your own culture until you get really good at Chinese and understand a bit of the culture. Here is a blog entry on sarcasm in China. It makes the point on jokes as does the times article the punchline is a little bit later than done in the US. Even with UK humor, there is a difference with US humor (and we share a common language theoretically). I still remember in High School an exchange student from Australia who was at the board and asked for a rubber. In Australia, that means an eraser. In the US it has a different meaning (trying to keep this blog rated G).

Another example of cultural difference is the meaning of white (death) in China, where in the US it means weddings. I still don't understand why Asia has gone into White Wedding Gowns, I like the idea of a Red one.

To see some cultural differences, get the Fun with Chinese Characters. The humor is a little bit different than what you have in the US and is not 100% political correct.

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