I recently told a friend of mine a joke about statisticians. I had read that joke in “Un matemático lee el periódico”, a Spanish translation of “A mathematician reads the newspaper”, months before. Today, while I was writing my diary, I asked myself “Why did I remember that joke?” Almost at the speed of light, it occurred to me jokes can be great for language learning, for the following reasons:
They are funny, of course!
Most of us, upon reading/listening to a joke, immediately want to tell it to another friend. So there is a social compulsion to memorize a joke, and thus all its words and general meaning.
That social compulsion surpasses any language barrier. The joke about statisticians I told my friend had been translated into Spanish by the book’s translator, and I translated it into Italian on the fly, when needed. Might not jokes force us to use bilateral or trilateral connections (good workout!) in our brain to recount them?
Jokes are generally short but not too much, easily remembered, sometimes use idiomatic expressions that can be easily explained, and surely have other great advantages, that I don’t feel like enumerating here
What do you think?
PS: At any rate, the joke about statisticians was the following:
Three statisticians go hunting. One of them sees a partridge flying, shoots at it, but misses it by two meters above. The second statistician misses it by two meters below. The third statistician exclaims: ‘We got it!’