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Aleksandra Ristovic 2990 Journal entry 7

Sigmund Freud made a famous distinction about the "tendencies" or purposes of a joke. He said that there are mainly two kinds of jokes and he attempted to separate jokes with hidden, underlying meanings and messages, from "abstract", pointless and above all harmless jokes. As we all know, the primary purpose of jokes is to evoke laughter and amuse people without, deliberately and directly, insulting anyone. However, many jokes on the surface level seem to be told just to make people laugh but, on some deeper level, they contain hidden messages and by revealing those messages one can learn and find out a lot about the content of the joke in question. The content of jokes may include a particular person, nation, society, culture and subculture and besides mockery, it serves the purpose of learning as well. Those jokes are usually based on stereotypes and prejudices and they revolve around typical and easily recognizable characteristics of a specific social group, nation, culture or subculture. For example, jokes about Chinese people usually ridicule their slanted and squinted eyes and extraordinary physical resemblance among all of them an average European and American is not accustomed to: My Chinese girlfriend got so annoyed when I told her I thought all Chinese people looked the same. Or, it could have been her mum who was annoyed, or her sister or her best friend. I really couldn't tell. or : Why do we need research into human cloning? China perfected it years ago.

It is very hard to track the origin of jokes and to try to figure out who makes them. Looking at some examples of nationality jokes, we can notice what kind of an impression a particular nation makes on other nations. For instance, jokes about Germans are invented either by apolitical Germans or by someone familiar with their historical past since the majority of the jokes about German people are about Nazis and their incompetence to win war. If we were ignorant of their historical background, we would probably have difficulties comprehending the following jokes: A German walks into a library and asks for a book on war. The librarian replies, "No mate, you'll lose it." or: I don't make stereotypes about Germans. I'm scared that if I do, I might be kidnapped and gassed to death before my emaciated body is burned to a crisp on a bonfire. I assume that Germans would not find these jokes amusing because they exclusively point out the negatives of their history. These two jokes present Germans as monstrous, power-hungry,

Aleksandra Ristovic 2990 Journal entry 7 aggressive, somewhat incompetent and senseless murderers. They would probably find these jokes tasteless as it brings them back the sorrowful memory of the past they should not be proud of. Therefore, we may say that the German jokes are more transparent since they often refer to their negative history and events that occurred in the first half of the XX century. In addition, because of their punctuality and terminological accuracy, Germans are held to be the least humorous nation and the British have an image of the typical German as a mercilessly efficient but humorless engineer. Scottish people are in jokes presented as great drunkards who drink all the time and have nothing better to do in their lives: I've been learning how to speak a new language: Scottish. It's a mixture of English and alcohol. You drink a pint and end each sentence with bastard. or: What's the difference between a Scottish funeral and a wedding? At the funeral there's one less drunk guy.

It is hard to discern whether Scots are amused or insulted by drinking jokes their neighbor countries probably have made. These jokes make people create a wrong image of Scottish people as being mean, wearing kilts, eating haggis, and playing the bagpipes and this is, of course, a stereotyped image that is far from the truth. They probably like to drink, but the prejudice that they are drunkards is a bit blown out of proportion and is exaggerated. The thing about these kinds of jokes is that they are considered politically incorrect, and offensive when told. In modern society, every educated person would dissociate from that kind of humor. The opinions on this matter are divided; some say that it is the so-called off- humor, offensive and should not be taken for granted while others think that those jokes are funny and that no one should feel offended or insulted.

Aleksandra Ristovic 2990 Journal entry 7