为什么人们认为德国人没有幽默感

2020年05月13日

来源:柴老师国际教育服务

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我用力鼓掌直到双手变红,并且笑出了眼泪。但是我对自己的反应感到惊讶,因为我是在柏林的Quatsch喜剧俱乐部,被德国喜剧演员所逗笑,这种情况在很多人看来都是矛盾的。

德国人显然很懂得欣赏幽默,这从柏林如雨后春笋般出现的喜剧场馆中得到印证。实际上,喜剧在德国文化中具有深厚的渊源,不管是对政治的讽刺或者是一出闹剧都能得到人们的欣赏。然而,在Badoo.com网站2011年的一项调查中,德国人被选为最无趣的国籍,这强化了众所周知的德国人的缺乏幽默感的刻板印象。

“我从不知道有这种刻板印象。我是在和说英语的人聊天后才发现的,”德国萨尔布吕肯地区的英语和法语老师Nicole Riplinger告诉我,“我们并不认为自己缺乏幽默感。”

她补充说:“我绝对喜欢幽默,特别是涉及讽刺和批评社会性问题的方面。”

因此,如果德国人的骨子从来都是有幽默感的,那么这种不幸的刻板印象是怎么产生的呢?

英国诺丁汉大学的德语语言学教授Nicola McLelland认为,不同语言的构建方式会影响各种文化传播和理解笑话的方式。

德语是使用复合词的少数几种语言之一。复合词通常无法直接翻译成其他语言,因此用复合词开的玩笑对非德语使用者来说根本不会有趣。

纽伦堡律师Christian Baumann的旅行史使他接触了世界各地的不同文化,他同意语言差异在德国人缺乏幽默感的刻板印象中起着重要作用。

在一次去美国的旅行中,即使讲个笑话,他也经常不得不把自己的思想从德语翻译成英语。结果就是人们没有办法理解他的幽默。有些人甚至指责他直率的言语是不礼貌的。

“我认为,当你尝试把德语从字面上翻译成英语时,有很多东西无法翻译,会失去很多使笑话有趣的含义。而且,当你不得不去解释一个笑话时,它就不好笑了。”鲍曼说,“所以说,他们不认为我是有趣的。”

但是,他认为文化差异也起着很大的作用。

“在英语中,即使你在批评某些事情,你也总是很有礼貌。但是德语是不同的。我们会直接说出我们的想法,因此,说英语的人会认为德国人只是合乎逻辑,粗鲁(虽然拥有非常优秀的工程师),却没有乐趣。”鲍曼说。

德国喜剧演员克里Christian Schulte-Loh充分认识到德国人身上的刻板印象,并在他的新书《笑对英国》中分享了他的观点,即德国人太诚实不能礼貌,而英国人太礼貌不能诚实。

Tears of laughter trickled down my face and I clapped so hard my hands turned red. But I was surprised at my reaction, for I was being hilariously entertained by a German comedian at Quatsch Comedy Club in Berlin, in a situation that could be considered oxymoronic by many.

The Germans obviously appreciate a show of good humour, a fact made evident with the soaring popularity of these comedy venues in Berlin. In fact, comedy has deep roots in German culture, with a strong appreciation of political satire as well as physical slapstick. Yet the Germans were voted in a 2011 survey by Badoo.com to be the least funny nationality, reinforcing a well-known stereotype of Germans having no humour.

“I’d never known about that stereotype. I only found out by speaking to English-speaking people,” Nicole Riplinger, an English and French teacher from Saarbrücken, told me. “I don’t think we consider ourselves to be humourless.”

“I definitely love humour,” she added, “especially involving irony and socio-critical issues.”

So, if the Germans have always had a funny bone in them, just how did this unfortunate stereotype come about?

Nicola McLelland, German linguistics professor at the UK’s University of Nottingham, believes that the way different languages are constructed can affect the way various cultures deliver and perceive jokes.

German is one of the few languages where the use of compound words. Compound words often can’t be directly translated into other languages, so jokes made with compound words simply won’t be funny to non-German speakers.

Christian Baumann, a lawyer from Nuremberg whose travels have exposed him to different cultures around the world, agrees that language differences play a huge part in Germany’s unfunny stereotype.

On one of his first foreign trips to the United States, he constantly had to translate his thoughts from German into English, even when telling a joke. The result was that people just didn’t get him. Some went as far as accusing his directness of speech to be rude.

“I think when you try to speak with a literal translation from German to English, you lose a lot of meaning that makes a joke funny. And when you have to explain a joke, it just isn’t funny anymore,” Baumann said. “So naturally, they didn’t think I was funny.”

But he also thinks that cultural variances play a big part, too.

“In English, you are always very polite, even if you are criticising something. But German is different. We will say what we have in mind, so, naturally I think, the English speakers have the impression that Germans are only logical, rude (but very good engineers) and can’t have fun,” Baumann said.

This is a sentiment German comedian Christian Schulte-Loh shares. Fully aware of the stereotype the Germans are labelled with, he writes in his new book, Zum Lachen auf die Insel (To England with Laughs), that Germans are too honest to be polite and the English are too polite to be honest.

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