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Are English jokes funnier when English isn't your native language?

Last posted Aug 07, 2012 at 05:48PM EDT. Added Aug 05, 2012 at 10:37AM EDT
23 posts from 15 users

I’m just wondering. I live in Holland and I sometimes watch Gmod videos for instance and what they say is funny. But is it more funnier when you hear jokes in English as a foreigner and know what they are saying or are they funnier when you live in America?

Aug 05, 2012 at 10:37AM EDT
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Thats impossible to answer really since you can only be one or the other, so you can’t speak for both sides. I do think that having a better grasp on the English language, idioms, slang, and culture does help in finding the jokes funny though, then again, mabye Its funnier to a non native speaker. Who knows?

Last edited Aug 05, 2012 at 10:58AM EDT
Aug 05, 2012 at 10:45AM EDT
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It depends, I think. A lot of English humor has to do with puns especially, and they can sometimes go over the heads of a foreign audience that don’t see the double meaning.

Last edited Aug 05, 2012 at 11:49AM EDT
Aug 05, 2012 at 11:49AM EDT
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Erwinator wrote:

I’m just wondering. I live in Holland and I sometimes watch Gmod videos for instance and what they say is funny. But is it more funnier when you hear jokes in English as a foreigner and know what they are saying or are they funnier when you live in America?

>are they funnier when you live in America?
You guys should know what I’m going to say by now.

Aug 05, 2012 at 12:50PM EDT

Herobrine wrote:

>are they funnier when you live in America?
You guys should know what I’m going to say by now.

You guys should know what I’m thinking, too.

Aug 05, 2012 at 12:59PM EDT
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@ ANN HIRO

I’m fine. I’m not so much on KYM anymore but I lurk alot in the Legend of Korra thread

Aug 05, 2012 at 01:05PM EDT
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Herobrine wrote:

>are they funnier when you live in America?
You guys should know what I’m going to say by now.

Come on now, America holds the vast majority of English speakers, so I can see why he said that. Nigeria and India have more english speakers than the UK. Still, would have been better to have said “English speaking countries”

Aug 05, 2012 at 02:29PM EDT
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Dac wrote:

Come on now, America holds the vast majority of English speakers, so I can see why he said that. Nigeria and India have more english speakers than the UK. Still, would have been better to have said “English speaking countries”

Seems much of an excuse, considering India is more densely populated and U.S.A is larger.

>_>

Aug 05, 2012 at 06:09PM EDT
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From what I noticed, it is harder to get jokes involving foreign celebrities. And as a lot of those involve celebrities from the US, I don’t always get the joke and have to run on assumptions.

Aug 05, 2012 at 06:16PM EDT
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量子 Meme wrote:

Seems much of an excuse, considering India is more densely populated and U.S.A is larger.

>_>

Think about it. The USA is a pop culture juggernaut that dominates media and Internet culture on the english side. A lot of English jokes that non English speakers are exposed to are from America,
I know it would have been better if he had said “English speaking countries”, but It does make sense that he choose America over England.

Aug 05, 2012 at 07:01PM EDT
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Dac wrote:

Think about it. The USA is a pop culture juggernaut that dominates media and Internet culture on the english side. A lot of English jokes that non English speakers are exposed to are from America,
I know it would have been better if he had said “English speaking countries”, but It does make sense that he choose America over England.

I know it does, you wasted your time with that paragraph!

Aug 06, 2012 at 11:02AM EDT
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That’s like asking if a joke would be funnier if told in Spanish and you don’t speak Spanish. The answer: No.

Aug 06, 2012 at 08:47PM EDT
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量子 Meme wrote:

I know it does, you wasted your time with that paragraph!

I’ll waste your face…

Aug 06, 2012 at 09:46PM EDT
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Dac wrote:

I’ll waste your face…

OOOOHHHHH



FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT

Aug 07, 2012 at 12:16AM EDT
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I think this topic is related to how many, MANY people truly think that original versions of movies, tv shows, cartoons and so on are “better” than what voice actors may do for each country.
It seems obvious because a lot of jokes may get lost in translation and the dubbers may sound weird/inappropriate at times or depending on the actor/character they dub.
Of course, then, the show becomes understandable by native speakers but, at the same time, it may lose a bit of its “freshness”.

Aug 07, 2012 at 10:07AM EDT
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Tomberry wrote:

I think this topic is related to how many, MANY people truly think that original versions of movies, tv shows, cartoons and so on are “better” than what voice actors may do for each country.
It seems obvious because a lot of jokes may get lost in translation and the dubbers may sound weird/inappropriate at times or depending on the actor/character they dub.
Of course, then, the show becomes understandable by native speakers but, at the same time, it may lose a bit of its “freshness”.

There are certain jokes that can’t be translated as they would not make any sense in another language. For example wordplays or regional accents. The translation can also sound very weird if oneliners become too long.

But i think it doesn’t make a big difference anymore, once you understand the language well enough. You have to keep in mind, that even native speakers don’t get all the jokes. Basically the experience will be quite similar for a foreigner and a native speaker as soon as you have reached a particular language power level.

Okey you still won’t get the jokes involving celebreties that are internationally unknown, but i think that you are not missing much there.

Aug 07, 2012 at 04:40PM EDT
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Pseudogenesis wrote:

That’s like asking if a joke would be funnier if told in Spanish and you don’t speak Spanish. The answer: No.

I had a couple of things to say, and this seemed quite related to one of them. Namely, that there are jokes that work specifically with people who are bilingual:

Un hombre va a una tienda en los EE.UU. para comprar calcetines, pero no habla Ingles. Entonces, no puede decirle al vendedor lo que quiere.

“Are you looking for pants?” el vendedor le pregunta.

“No,” dice, indicando a sus pies. “¿Calcetines?”

“What, shoes?”

“No, ¿cuál es la palabra?”

Finalmente, el vendedor le muestra unos calcetines.

“¡Eso sí que es!” el hombre grita.

“Well, if you could spell it…”

For those who don’t speak Spanish, I assure you that was hilarious.

The other thing I was going to say is that while I don’t think the original question is easy to answer, I do know that I’m very entertained by foreigners adopting a fake American accent. For instance, as far as I’m concerned, that’s about 70% of the funny in this sketch.

Aug 07, 2012 at 05:48PM EDT
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Skeletor-sm

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