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International Humor


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from the Nilsens

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International Humor

  1. 1. International Humor by Don and Alleen Nilsen 1
  2. 2. In investigating International Humor, consider the following metaphor Life is a Journey There are many metaphors to explain life. Life is a box of chocolates. Life is a river. Life is an uphill battle. Life is a walk in the park. Life is an automobile wreck. The best metaphor is that “Life is a Journey.” 2
  3. 3. 3 Physical Humor Translates Well from Culture to Culture This is one of the reasons that comedians in America’s silent films had international audiences. Examples include: Charlie Chaplin Laurel and Hardy The Three Stooges Buster Keaton
  4. 4. Visual Humor Helen Keller and Charley Chaplin 4
  5. 5. 5 Political Cartoons also Cross International Boundaries as when New York’s Boss Tweed was recognized by customs agents in Spain and sent back to the U. S. BECAUSE . . . • Cartoons are caricatures in which the salient features are exaggerated, so that people are easily recognized. • The cartoons provide epiphanies, i.e. sudden insights. • The point is made quickly and succinctly, much like the punch line of a joke.
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  7. 7. 7 Afghanistan at the Crossroads Ghenghis Khan came to Afghanistan. Marco Polo came to Afghanistan. The Silk Route went through Afghanistan. The British came to Afghanistan. The Americans came to Afghanistan. The Russians came to Afghanistan. The Kuchis travel through Afghanistan; north in the summer, south in the winter. However, Afghanistan is like New York. It’s a great place to visit, but nobody wants to live there.
  8. 8. Our Afghan Web Site: The Nilsen family lived in Afghanistan from 1968-1969. Don taught English at Kabul University, and Alleen taught at the American International School in Kabul (A.I.S.K.) Here is Alleen’s web site called “Afghanistan for Kids” 8
  9. 9. 9 Humorous Metaphors in Farsi (Iranian Persian) NOTE: In Farsi, these are dead metaphors and are therefore not funny. But to an outsider learning Farsi, they are amusing. • Walking is “baa Xate yazdah” (going by bus line number 11). The 11 stands for your two legs. • Ladybird is “kafsh duzak” (little shoe-smith) • Ostrich is “shotor-morgh” (camel-hen)
  10. 10. 10 Metaphors in Dari (Afghan Persian) • Popcorn is “chos e fil” (elephant’s fart)-- recently changed to “pof-e fil” = puff • Turkey is “fil morgh” (elephant chicken) • Turtle is “sang posht” (rock back) • Walnut is “chahar maghs” (four brains) Thanks to our Dari and Farsi consultants: Sajida Kamal Grande of the University of Nebraska, Omaha and Behrooz Mahmoodi-Bakhtiari, University of Tehran
  11. 11. Mullah Nasruddin 11
  12. 12. 12 Afghan Mullah Nasruddin Stories NOTE: Each story about the Mullah teaches a lesson in logic. • Tying a balloon to his ankle. • Looking for a valuable coin in the wrong place • Stealing watermelons • Lifting a heavy boulder • Shooting a hole in his own shirt • His donkey, the salt, and the wool carpet • His three Friday sermons
  13. 13. Australia Welsh Comedian and his lost luggage in Australia: 13
  14. 14. Melbourne and Adelaide, Australia 14
  15. 15. Bruxelles, Belgium 15
  16. 16. 16 Bulgarian Humor A yearly humor festival in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, attracts visitors from around the world. They have a museum called the “House of Humour and Satire” with tanks and guns made out of soft cloth. In front of the House of Humour and Satire is a statue of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They make fun of the fact that they are cheap. They erected a statue of their humorous founder Racho Kabacho (Racho, the blacksmith) in the middle of the river, because that was where the land was cheap. During the festival, dozens of people dress like Charlie Chaplin with mustaches, top hats, tuxedos, oversized shoes and canes. They walk in straight lines and make right-angle turns.
  17. 17. Bulgarian House of Humour and Satire Icons: 17
  18. 18. Toronto, Canada 18
  19. 19. Beijing, China 19
  20. 20. Prague, Czechoslovakia 20
  21. 21. Oxford and London, England 21
  22. 22. Equador’s Pailon del Diablo Two Spanish Proverbs: He who stumbles twice over the same stone Deserves to break his neck. “En boca cerrada No entran moscas.” 22
  23. 23. French Humor A French Proverb He who lends money to a friend, Loses both. 23
  24. 24. French Phonology Joseph (21 Ans): 24
  25. 25. Marseilles, France & French Exceptionalism 25
  26. 26. 26 German “Schadenfreud” Humor Germany has “Der Struevelpater,” a dark figure who burns up little children who play with matches and cuts off the fingers of little children who play with scissors. This dark figure is designed to teach children that there are serious consequences for doing bad things.
  27. 27. Potsdam, Germany 27
  28. 28. Hawaii’s Haiku Scale in Oahu 28
  29. 29. Budapest, Hungary 29
  30. 30. Reykjavik, Iceland 30
  31. 31. Klaipeda, Lithuania 31
  32. 32. India’s Cand Baori Fountain 32
  33. 33. 33 Indian Humor: Trickster Tales, Pourquoi Stories & Cautionary Tales Most American Indian tribes, like many African tribes, have trickster tales. The tales are cautionary, and they are also explanatory. African Anansi tales tell why mosqitoes buzz, and why the elephant has a long trunk. Indian Coyote stories and other trickster tales tell how a person should act often by demonstrating how not to act.
  34. 34. 34 The Irish Rogue The Irish Rogue is not a criminal, but he is bright, charismatic, and subversive. Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl (written for young readers) is a typical Irish Rogue, in the tradition of Christy Mahon in John Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, Mr. Boyle in Sean O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock, Finn MacCool in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, and Sebastian Dangerfield in J. P. Donleavy’s The Ginger Man. Jonathan Swift was even being a bit roguish when he wrote “A Modest Proposal.”
  35. 35. 35 Rogues are revered in Ireland, because it was the Rogues who fought back when the English were taking over Ireland. Rogues break rules and laws, but it is always for the greater good. Rogues are “entertaining and high spirited, and they diffuse violence with their use of humor. Although they are flirtatious, they seldom form any lasting alliances with women.”
  36. 36. 36 Many rogues are linked to an aristocratic figure, usually an Irish rebel chief, for whom they risk their lives. The ‘rogue’ is articulate, good natured, fun loving, and exhibits an irrepressible élan vital. Rogues tend to be imaginative and resilient comic figures.
  37. 37. Israeli Humor “Chanukah Song” by Adam Sandler: 37
  38. 38. Italy “What time is it?”: Italian Auction: 38
  39. 39. 39 Japanese Humor The Japanese are very serious during working hours. They consider their bosses and their fellow workers part of their family, and they do their best to be productive and impress their working companions. But after working hours, they go to Karaoke bars, drink saki, and make fun of their bosses and their companions. Such humor is usually slapstick and silly.
  40. 40. Japan: Picachu 40
  41. 41. 41 Navajo Humor In contrast to Japanese humor, Navajo humor is part of everyday life. It tends to be physical, and it involves many practical jokes. Navajos will often parody white men by talking loudly, boasting, and interrupting others. When a child is born into a Navajo family, everybody tries to make the child laugh, and the first person who is successful in doing so becomes a part of the family. There is even a formal ceremony to induct this laugh- inducer into the child’s family.
  42. 42. 42 In Native American cultures, “contraries” or “ritual clowns” do things backwards, as demonstrations of what not to do, e.g. they • Ride their horses backwards. • Wear little clothing in the winter and much clothing in the summer. • Lift great weights with ease and have difficulty lifting light weights. • Attack a powerful enemy, and cower at a lesser power. • Say the opposite of the truth.
  43. 43. Amsterdam, Netherlands 43
  44. 44. Peru’s Wayna Pichu at Machu Pichu A Spanish Proverb •Beware of enemies reconciled, and of meat twice boiled. 44
  45. 45. Wroclaw, Poland 45
  46. 46. Romanian Humor When a group of Romanians came to our ASU humor conference in 1986, they sent us this news story about the event published in their home town newspaper. All we recognized was the sketch of Gammage Auditorium on the right. 46
  47. 47. Onesti, Romania 47
  48. 48. Russian Humor These men from the Soviet Union came to our 1986 humor conference at ASU. Our closing dinner was at Rawhide and they slipped away to have their pictures taken with an American barmaid. 48
  49. 49. A Russian Statue 49
  50. 50. Singapore, Singapore 50
  51. 51. Bratislava, Slovakia 51
  52. 52. Madrid, Spain & Gulliver Park: Valencia, Spain 52
  53. 53. Stockholm, Sweden Finger Points to a Hotel 53
  54. 54. Switzerland’s Elbsandsteingebirge Stairs 54
  55. 55. Taipei, Taiwan 55
  56. 56. Eceabat, Turkey 56
  57. 57. Kharkiv, Ukraine: A Goodbye Kiss! 57
  58. 58. A Bit of Perspective 58
  59. 59. In Conclusion • A world-wide telephone survey was conducted and the only question asked was: • "Would you please give your honest opinion about possible solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?“ • The survey appeared to fail because:     59
  60. 60. • In Eastern Europe there was no agreement on what "honest" meant. • In Western Europe they didn't know what "shortage" meant. • In some places in Africa they needed "food" before they answered. • In China they didn't know what "opinion" meant. • In the Middle East they didn't know what "solution" meant. • In South America they questioned what "please" meant. • In the USA they didn't know what "the rest of the world" meant. • And in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Great Britain . . . everyone hung up when they heard the foreign accent. 60
  61. 61. Some Translation Problems in International Advertisements: 61