Learn English with Jokes
When trying to learn a language, a great way to go beyond simple comprehension and pained conversation is to learn how to tell and appreciate jokes in the language.
Learning a language is far more than simply comprehending vocabulary and grammar rules. Trust me – in my translation services work I’ve known colleagues who know every word of vocabulary and can explain in detail the most obscure grammar rules of a language, but do sub-par work anyway. The problem? They don’t have a deep understanding of the language and the culture behind it. Having a ‘feel’ for a language is just as important as an academic fluency.
So, if you’re learning a language, how do you get this deeper understanding? Especially if you can’t simply go live in the country and immerse yourself in the culture for a few months? I have a suggestion that might surprise some people, also drawn from my language translation work: Learn some jokes.
The Mysterious Engine
The old saying ‘dying is easy, comedy is hard’ is an absolute truth – as anyone who has ever opened a presentation with a joke that fell flat knows all too well. I can’t tell you how often in casual conversation I have said something that made the whole table burst into guffaws, and I have no idea why what I just said is considered so funny. Humour is a mysterious engine. That’s why plumbing some depths of how jokes work can be an amazing insight into a language’s soul.
When you can understand a joke and tell a joke and get laughter in response, you’re using language in a subtle way that goes far beyond simply imparting information – it’s like the difference between knowing a few phrases that get you through a few days in a country and having actual fluency where you can communicate your actual thoughts and feelings. Being able to master the fine art of the joke is like a master class in a language.
Just as important, learning jokes makes you feel like you’re part of the culture, because you understand why things are funny. Telling a joke successfully in another language – not just repeating words you’ve memorised, but actually composing a joke people find funny – means you’re ‘in,’ and that sense of inclusion is a powerful force that can inspire you to even higher levels of comprehension and comfort in the language you’ve chosen.
Just as important, displaying a sense of local humour will also make others in the country feel more comfortable with you, and they’ll speak more openly to you and be more tolerant of mistakes – and more willing to help. Being able to tell jokes in a language is very much like knowing the secret password to an exclusive club. Not only is it a good overall exercise in true comprehension instead of just rote memorisation, but it’s a lot more fun than studying dictionaries and repeating phrases about ordering coffee over and over again.
Image courtesy thescop.com
You might also like:
We are proud to announce that our agency has been awarded with not one, but two of the prestigious FinancesOnline awards. One Hour Translation scored
International Translation Day is held in celebration of the feast of St Jerome, the Bible translator widely considered the patron saint of translators. The International Federation of Translators is the promoter of International Translation Day, and has been since it was first held in 1953.
The translation industry is a relatively small one but it’s also a highly competitive one. Basically, do your research on a translation agency prior to making initial contact and it will certainly pay off; perhaps not immediately because there may not be any work available at the time, so just be patient. Your application must stand out above the rest, and by following these simple steps you should have no problem whatsoever in achieving your translation goals.