March 13, 2010

A Sense of Humor

The first thing you lose when you move into a foreign culture, is your sense of humor. You do not actually lose it, but in order to be funny, you have to master a foreign language, which is hardly my case.
And so if in the past you used to be a rather witty table companion, these days you have become one of the dullest members at any social gathering.
K. in action. "You know, I really don't like the wine. Can I have another glass?"

In the very beginning this bothered me quite a bit. After all, I had been quite an intelligent woman (I thought) back home, yet could not say a whole lot of smart things here in Beirut. Let alone funny things. But we’ve gotten to a point where you rarely have an ‘Arabic-speaking-only’ crowd in this town, and so this social isolation is not much of a problem. But the humor issue remains, well, an issue.

لديك شعور كبير من الهزل

Humor is considered to be very culturally specific. The Dutch have in general a rather dark ironic and sarcastic sense of humor, quite close to the British and Australian one. The Lebanese sense of humor is not that far off, once you get past the Abu Abed jokes. Still, the language & culture barrier is there, even if it is in English. There’s a whole lot of stuff and innuendo that nobody ‘gets’, only the Dutch.
P. and H. in action; sharing each others (Lebanese) husbands abilities' to go camping.

So last night, when Joke (no pun intended, this is really her name. It is pronounced as Jo-kuh) got a lot of Dutch together in her house up in Broumanna, all we did was laugh. We didn’t need intelligent table conversations, we just needed to laugh.


Liliane said...

hey! i sent you an email, hope you still use the email you have listed in your profile! let me know if you received it.

nicolien said...

Oh, zo herkenbaar! Ook zo erg: elke keer als een passage in een (Nederlands) boek je aan het lachen maakt, aan je man moeten uitleggen wat er zo grappig is... kan dus niet.

Ginette said...

so true! first as a German, I lived with a Dutch ... and had to learn about the Dutch humor. Then I started to work in an international organisation ... don´t ask ... and met my Spanish husband, pfff tired to explain things I consider to be funny (in English) ... until now in Lebanon, not much to laugh about, except when I am with my German friends - soon hopefully I´m gonna laugh with the Dutchies. I hope I haven´t forgotten the Dutch humor again :-O

Francine said...

Now I understand why people laugh and tell me I don't have a sense of humour :)

Anonymous said...

2 dolfijnen zwemmen in zee. zegt de ene, hoe bevalt je nieuwe badmuts?
zegt de andere dolfijn.