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【中英文】英式幽默


发布日期:10/11/2019 2:15:36 AM
 Is it possible for a foreigner to understand British humour?

In my opinion, there are a surprising number of similarities between British and Chinese humour. British humour is notoriously known for its dryness, suffused with irony and sarcasm to the extent of bordering on offensive. It teaches you to not to take yourself too seriously. To put it brashly, it loves to ‘take the piss’: out of oneself, of the people you like and of the ones you don’t. This is perhaps best represented by the once popular comic TV series Little Britain, a show that survived on crude, exaggerated parodies of your supposedly everyday Brit, poking fun at the working classes (the ‘Chavs’) and the obese. It traded on its British audience’s sense of self-deprecation. The Britishness of the humour may be reflected in the failure of the spin off of the show, Little Britain USA, to entertain an American audience, who are perhaps too used to the fluffiness of shows such as Friends to find humour in endless crude jokes about homosexuality, fatness and other sensitive topics.

依我之见,腐国和大中华的幽默还真是惊人地相似。众所周知,英式幽默的特点就是平淡无奇,却又偏偏要尽挖苦讽刺之能事,简直有了冒犯的意味。笑话看多了,你就懂了:别太把自己当回事。话糙理不糙地讲,英式幽默能把所有人祖宗八辈地挖苦一遍:挖苦自己,挖苦喜欢的、不喜欢的三教九流。这一特质在红极一时的电视喜剧《小不列颠》(Little Britain)中展现地淋漓尽致,剧中的大量桥段靠着粗暴夸张的模仿,挖苦着不列颠的芸芸众生,嘲笑着中产阶级(“小混混”)和肥胖人士。也是抓准了英国观众的自嘲精神。如此英国特色到了美国佬那可没人买账,《小不列颠》的姊妹篇《小不列颠大美利坚》(Little Britain USA)就没能娱乐到美国人民,这些人可是看惯了《老友记》(Friends)里烂俗的段子,管他是拿同性恋、大胖墩还是其他敏感话题开涮呢!

The art of self-deprecation
自嘲的艺术

While some topics may still be too taboo to joke about due to the ‘face saving’ culture in China, self-mockery, known as ‘Zi Hei’, is also becoming a more popular form of humour. This can be seen by the roaring and mostly favourable response to actor DengChao’s Weibo posts, filled with photos and clips of himself in drag and all sorts of weird and wonderful costumes and makeup. Rather, it is those who take themselves too seriously or think too highly of themselves that often end up as the butt of jokes in both British and Chinese cultures: think politicians in the UK, the and nouveau riche or ‘second generations’ in China (stemming off the ‘My father is Li Gang jokes’).

中国人爱面子的传统给笑话设定了不可逾越的界限,而中国式“自黑”正变成大家喜闻乐见的幽默。看看邓超那些一呼百应,让粉丝争相点赞的微博你就懂了——什么伪娘扮相的照片、小视频,什么奇装异服、鬼魅妆容,“黑”得放荡不羁。恰恰是那些自命不凡的人成了中英人民群起而“黑”之的对象:有英国政客,有中国土豪或各种“二代”(出自于“我爸是李刚”的段子)。

“Cold jokes”
“冷笑话”

The deadpan nature in which some British jokes are delivered is comparable to Chinese ‘cold jokes’. Both take a moment for the recipient to register, and both are not necessarily funny to all who hears them. Eating dinner at a British restaurant the other night, we sat next to a group of men on a ‘stag-do’; each of them was wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a sentence that was directed at the groom-to-be. One of them said: ‘some say he works from home, even though he lives only a few yards from his workplace.’ We could only guess that this was an endearing way of labelling their friend as lazy, but not having known them personally, our response was ‘that’s cold’!

英国的笑话和中国的“冷笑话”有得一拼。笑话不一定好笑,听笑话的人都得消化一阵才能听懂。有天晚上和朋友在英国餐厅吃饭,旁边坐在一桌参加“单身聚会”的小哥(为祝贺某单身哥们即将结婚而举行的聚会);每个人的T恤上都印着一句和准新郎有关的话。其中一句是“有人说即使单位离家就两步路,他也在家办公。”我们也只能猜测这句话萌萌地点明了他朋友是个懒虫,但萍水相逢,我们也只能默默说一句“好冷啊”!

Puns
双关

Due to the wealth of Chinese characters and sounds, a lot of Chinese humour is inspired by homophones, and playing on words or characters. Equally, the Brits are fond of their puns, which are frequently integrated into everyday conversation. This is often followed by the disclaimer ‘no pun intended’ – although like many other forms of British humour, this serves the exact opposite purpose of what it says, by lightheartedly acknowledging that a joke has been made. One of my personal favourites belongs to comedian Leo Kearse, winner of the UK ‘pun championships’: I was at hospital last week. I asked the nurse if I could do my own stitches, she said "suture self." (punning cleverly on “suit yourself”.)

中文的字音字形千变万化、博大精深,很多的中文段子都运用了同音异义词,玩起了文字游戏。同样,英国人也钟情于英语里的双关,把它们融于日常对话中,还总故意加一句“我可没想用双关哈”——其实就和其他腐国幽默一样,说者随口承认自己就是想搞笑,确实也就有了“笑果”。我的最爱双关语出自喜剧演员里约·基尔斯在英国“双关语锦标赛”上的金句:上周我住院的时候问护士,我自己缝针行不行,她说“请自缝(‘请自便’的好梗)。”

A rich history
历史悠久

Furthermore, both China and Britain have a rich and profound history and culture for comedians to work with.  For example, Chinese humour may incorporate historical figures: ‘Yuan Fang, what do you think?’ (lines from a TV series based on a Tang dynasty magistrate and statesman). The Brits, if Little Britain is anything to go by, are always receptive to jokes about the centuries-old class system.

此外,中英两国都有悠久的历史和灿烂的文化,更为喜剧演员提供了素材。例如:中国的一些小幽默就和历史人物有关:“元芳,你怎么看?”(此为描写唐代神探狄仁杰卫队长的电视剧台词)。从《小不列颠》来看,英国人倒是愿意拿自己几百年的阶级制度开玩笑。

But this is only a tiny sample of what I’ve experienced in the enriching worlds of Chinese and British humour – and there’s so much more to discover. After all, is there a better way to get to know a culture than by learning its sense of humour?

在中英幽默的大千世界里,我也只是管中窥豹,略见一斑。说到底,要是笑话都能听懂,你还怕自己不了解这种文化吗?


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