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Old 14.07.2011, 00:07
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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Personally - I've yet to encounter such humorous subtlety, in all but the very occasional native ....... although the younger generation do seem to appreciate satirical humour - now it's more common and mainstream ... and accepted.
I guess with basic German and minimal French (according to your profile) you won't get much of what's going on around you. Maybe you should socialize a bit more.
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Old 14.07.2011, 00:08
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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Personally - I've yet to encounter such humorous subtlety, in all but the very occasional native ....... although the younger generation do seem to appreciate satirical humour - now it's more common and mainstream ... and accepted.
It's funny how much our experiences differ - perhaps there is a regional aspect to this?

Certainly, I've found that the dry, ironic wit mentioned above is very prevalent amongst older Swiss people - especially (but not exclusively) the ones who live in the countryside.
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Old 14.07.2011, 00:09
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

I don't get it...
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Old 14.07.2011, 00:26
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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More important (see above), do you understand Swiss-German in all its facets and subtleties? That's the point. Being funny in a foreign language is very, very difficult, and for many native Swiss-German speakers even Standard German is like a foreign language.
I beg to differ. If you have a good sense of humour and like to tell jokes, it's a quality that can be transposed to other foreign languages (more than basic level but not necessarily expert). It's like your handwritting: if it's bad in a certain alphabet, it will be bad as well in other alphabets. It has to do with your deeper features and skills. Someone who is not funny in his mother tongue won't be funny in other languages even if he has an expert level.
A first basic skill for any humourist is to know the addressed audience and their capacity to absorb your jokes, puns etc...
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Old 14.07.2011, 00:31
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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Personally - I've yet to encounter such humorous subtlety, in all but the very occasional native ....... although the younger generation do seem to appreciate satirical humour - now it's more common and mainstream ... and accepted.
How old are you ?? Satirical humour had its highdays in Switzerland in the 17th and 18th and 19th century. And satirical humour became mainsteam and common and accepted some 200 years ago.

Given a birth in 1750, you now are some 261 years old ! Amazing health of you, congratulations

Sorry, but I encountered "such humourous subtlety" again and again and again since the 1950ies, from persons of various social levels
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Old 14.07.2011, 00:52
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

Ok, easy explanation: I am a non-native speaker, but fairly fluent - easily better than pretty much all Swiss I met. I had no idea that Geese "honk", not part of my vocabulary, sorry. So I'd not got that joke either. Doesn't mean that I do not have a sense of humour, only that the joke requires people to know English far better than most do here.

That said do my Swiss colleagues only get half of my German puns... they lack vocabulary there as well.
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Old 14.07.2011, 01:00
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

This- for the folks who missed it- is the Swiss German joke.

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Do you understand Swiss-German humour ?


Meanwhile, on an island,

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Old 14.07.2011, 01:01
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

I actually laughed
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  #69  
Old 14.07.2011, 01:13
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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I beg to differ. If you have a good sense of humour and like to tell jokes, it's a quality that can be transposed to other foreign languages (more than basic level but not necessarily expert). It's like your handwritting: if it's bad in a certain alphabet, it will be bad as well in other alphabets. It has to do with your deeper features and skills. Someone who is not funny in his mother tongue won't be funny in other languages even if he has an expert level.
I suspect you never practiced what you're preaching, because otherwise you'd know better. I agree to the last sentence, but not to the rest.

Once you sit in a circle having fun and telling jokes in a language that is not yours, even in one you master fairly well, you'll very quickly notice the problem that you want to tell a joke that picks up the subject of another joke the guys still are laughing about, but you realize you heard your joke in your native language (or another language not spoken in that circle). So first you will have to check if it is even funny in the language currently used. By the time you've done that, the whole conversation will have proceded to the next joke, which is not yours. Total fail.

It is not a matter of a lack of vocabulary. An incredible lot of jokes (and witty remarks) are based on puns or cultural peculiarities that simply can't be translated without being killed. But you have to translate them in order to asses them.

I'm a joker in my mother tongue, so much so, I even get appointed as a toastmaster at major events to entertain pretty big crowds. Besides that I think that my English is not exactly bad, but I cannot do that kind of job in English.
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Old 14.07.2011, 01:23
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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I suspect you never practiced what you're preaching, because otherwise you'd know better. I agree to the last sentence, but not to the rest.

Once you sit in a circle having fun and telling jokes in a language that is not yours, even in one you master fairly well, you'll very quickly notice the problem that you want to tell a joke that picks up the subject of another joke the guys still are laughing about, but you realize you heard your joke in your native language (or another language not spoken in that circle). So first you will have to check if it is even funny in the language currently used. By the time you've done that, the whole conversation will have proceded to the next joke, which is not yours. Total fail.

It is not a matter of a lack of vocabulary. An incredible lot of jokes (and witty remarks) are based on puns or cultural peculiarities that simply can't be translated without being killed. But you have to translate them in order to asses them.

I'm a joker in my mother tongue, so much so, I even get appointed as a toastmaster at major events to entertain pretty big crowds. Besides that I think that my English is not exactly bad, but I cannot do that kind of job in English.
Sense of humour is not only about telling jokes or making puns...that's the easy part cause all you need is a good memory and basic storytelling skills.
You are also focusing too much on puns which are almost impossible to translate for obvious reasons. I was speaking more of sense of humour as an attitude, a mindset, a certain view of the world and this is much easier to carry over to another language.
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Old 14.07.2011, 01:26
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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A colleague is travelling in the US, and she sent back this picture of her commute to work, with the comment "Traffic jam!"



Having already had my second cup of coffee, and feeling pretty sharp, I sensed the opportunity to make a funny... "Ah," I quipped, "that explains all the honking!"

I looked around at my colleagues, their laughter being the reward for my clever pun. Nope, nothing but expression-less faces, gaping at an Englishman chortling to himself and wondering if he didn't have a few screws loose...

"The geese.... the honking.... Geese honking?" I tried to explain, but to no avail. These non-native speakers weren't going to reward my wordplay, no matter how witty...

So I came to the only place I could: English Forum. And I present to you:


















"Traffic jam!"

"Ah! That explains all the honking..."





(I'll get my coat...)
I swiss and I am think it is funny
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Old 14.07.2011, 01:35
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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How old are you ?? Satirical humour had its highdays in Switzerland in the 17th and 18th and 19th century. And satirical humour became mainsteam and common and accepted some 200 years ago.

Given a birth in 1750, you now are some 261 years old ! Amazing health of you, congratulations

Sorry, but I encountered "such humourous subtlety" again and again and again since the 1950ies, from persons of various social levels
I think this proves the OP's point
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Old 14.07.2011, 01:37
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

@OP: I think you should stick to Jape...
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Old 14.07.2011, 01:43
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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Sense of humour is not only about telling jokes or making puns...that's the easy part cause all you need is a good memory and basic storytelling skills.
You are also focusing too much on puns which are almost impossible to translate for obvious reasons. I was speaking more of sense of humour as an attitude, a mindset, a certain view of the world and this is much easier to carry over to another language.
I agree with you, but how do you asses those aspects? Are you really able to judge the mindsets of the Swiss and their views of the world?

Besides that, what do you know about how the Swiss perceive you and gauge your sense of humor?
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Old 14.07.2011, 01:56
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

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My husband is actually pretty good with puns... he had to catch on pretty quick though as punning around is something of a sport in my family.


On the other hand, I look at that gaggle of geese and immediately wonder where the photo was taken, I used to love seeing "Canadian Geese" summering around the north-of-Chicago 'burbs where I used to live.
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Old 14.07.2011, 07:42
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

My sarcasm is definitely getting rusty here in Switzerland. They just don't get it.
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  #77  
Old 14.07.2011, 07:57
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

I think if you are crossing different languages the best humour is observational and something that is relevant to everyone listening in.

We have many different mother-tongues in my company but there are some people in the office who are bang on target with their comments which gets everyone laughing. The humour is rarely directed at any individual (unless they dish it out as much as can take it) but somehow we find a good source of stuff to have a laugh about.
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Old 14.07.2011, 08:06
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

The moment that you need to try and explain the funny side of a joke, you're onto a loser. Just accept the fact that you're "special" and enjoy your own unique trait of humor, period.

My favorite line of all time proves a point that the speed of response and suitability is king.

Many, many years ago my parents were doing the tourist thing in London and my mom was looking at postcards at a kiosk. Not finding what she wants, she turns to the owner and says "These cards aren't very nice are they?". Quick as a flash the seller shoots back "I'll burn them....".

This is now a family legacy and punchline used at every opportunity. It works for us.
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Old 14.07.2011, 08:10
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

Man: "My dog has no nose..."
Woman: "Oh my gosh! How does he smell?"
Man: "Terrible."
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Old 14.07.2011, 08:32
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Re: My humour is lost on the Swiss...

Well.. I thought all the honking was funny. And the cuckoo clock, too.

But it's true. Humor doesn't translate. Last night I tried to watch Family Guy dubbed into German. Normally I laugh my ass off for 30 minutes when I watch it.

But in German. Huh? I sit there watching and I don't even sense a chuckle coming on.

<cry> </cry>
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