It is a definite thing that humor in other languages can take on a kind of difference. Plays on words, obviously, will be different. And even besides the languages, the differences in cultural humor are often very different between the languages.
I really like this excerpt from an article deconstructing the impact of humor on several different aspects of linguistics, and how linguistics itself can help to mold humor.
By dislodging the omniscience of formal discourse, humor reminds us that the way we construct the world through language is only one among many ways. Humor’s alternative standpoint and discursive rules enable novel interpretations and expressions of social life. Until we develop other modes of expression that can capture life’s incongruities, ambiguities, and paradoxes, humor remains an important linguistic resource.
The subordinate position of humor as a discursive form need not keep us from exploring its uses. Although I have touched on only some of the many functions of humor in society, 1 believe that the importance of humor to op pressed people and its potential uses as an alternative mode of discourse make it valuable for social workers. Learning to appreciate, understand, and appropriately use humor can be part of social work training. (Who would nut want to teach “Social Work Humor”?)
Social work and Social Work are serious but they need not be somber. I suspect that confusing the two contributes to our lack of humor. To be serious is to be determined, intent, and thoughtful, whereas to be somber is to be gloomy, sullen, and grim. Humor can coexist with the serious, but not with the somber. Thus, it is often when we are least receptive to humor–when we are mired in the bleak and the morbid–that a good laugh is most needed. In these situations humor can provide a perspective that enables us to distinguish the annoying from the intolerable, the unfortunate from the disastrous, and the unpleasant from the awful. Social work is a serious profession; it need not be a humorless one.
How has humor been important to your work? What have you learned from clients, research participants, students, or colleagues that has helped you to be a better social worker? How has humor enabled you to express a perspective about the world that is not accessible within the serious mode? Is there a place for humor in Social Work that will not compromise its purposes of generating new information and reflecting critically on important issues facing our profession? In short, can we take humor seriously?”
When I was learning the Spanish Language and getting good at it (through my usage of the excellent Rocket Spanish course, which I will go into detail later) I found that the usage of humor in Spanish was slightly different than the usage in English.
It’s a subtle difference and one that not many people will perceive right away.
Spanish humor has fewer boundaries and is much less politically correct, in my view. Spanish humor has also been said to have an element of surrealism, as noted by this author. It’s something that you have to immerse yourself in to really, see, but it’s one of the benefits of learning a new language.