Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Had I but known

Ideas of what is funny are different in different societies. Humour is difficult to deal with, because it is hard to know what is an acceptable joke. Men will tell jokes to other men, but they may not repeat those jokes to women. Women who know each other may tell each other jokes that they would not tell to other groups. Sexual jokes are common in New Zealand, but you need a lot of experience to know whether a sexual joke is acceptable or unpleasant. Unless you are very sure of the meaning of the joke, it is probably safer not to repeat it. Jokes that you hear in your workplace are often not suitable for other company.
From New Zealand, a Guide for New Settlers, by Gillian Green for Immigration Department, Department of Labour; 1988, p55.


harvestbird said...

After a conversation about the language of sitcoms and the limits of the freemarket, a colleague and I made a sign that reads "Talk to the Invisible Hand" and hung it above his desk. This is a workplace joke that no-one else thinks is particularly funny, but I don't suppose that's what Green is talking about.

Paul said...

"Talk to the Invisible Hand:" I wish had thought of that

Philip said...

Interestingly, this business of inappropriate context can apply outside New Zealand, too. Just try explaining to a denizen of the non-blogosphere why a lolcat caption that ends in !!!!1!!1! is funnier than one that ends in !!!!, and you'll see what I mean.

Word Verification: ouctar, something grander than a Mufti but not as good as a Vizier.

Rich said...

I heard a joke at work about a cabinet minister, a recently-former cabinet minister and a new government appointee.

I think that might be what they are getting at.