Case notes from across the pond: January 2, 2011

2 Jan

Mission: Land in England, locate examples of English humour and dissect and analyse it for citizens in home country.

Status: In Progress
Notes Thus Far: Nearly five months of close observation of specified species (the English) has enabled me to come to a number of conclusions about the subject of humour in this nation.
In this case note entry, I will be narrowing in on my personal favourite, sarcasm—particularly what traits the British brand possesses that could possibly confuse foreigners.

Sarcasm in England is unlike any other kind of humour I have ever encountered. Well acquainted with irony in Canada, I was most displeased to discover a roadblock between the natives and myself. They did not seem to understand when I attempted sarcasm and I mistook their brand of humour for an intense dislike of…well, nearly everything.
Through questioning of said natives I was able to ascertain that sarcasm is so much a part of this culture that it is nearly impossible for a foreign citizen to distinguish between sarcasm and mean-spiritedness. In one interview where I asked one such subject abut this matter, subject replied, “You just know when someone is being sarcastic.”

Surely, there must be some verbal cue, some voice intonation, I was missing. But, native after native re-iterated this sentiment: “you just know.”
Conclusion: Adaptation is slow because natives have been bred with knowledge. Severe disadvantage for non-English.

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