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Humor in Cultural Discourse. Polish Jokes about China and Japan

Opole University, Poland


CP, Number 15


No. 15 (2010)  Editorial


The aim of the paper is to present the results of the analysis of Polish jokes about Chinese and Japanese cultures. Those are the groups of texts that in a very condensed way show the stereotypes dealing not only with particular cultures. Due to their representative character, they are perceived as carrying prototypical Asian features. The oppositions between the Asian culture and the European one belong to the most often debated issues in the period when the cultures have more than ever opportunities to melt and meet (in direct or indirect way through the means of films, books and the general easy flow of information). The appearance of new characters in traditional Polish jokes is only a reflection of more considerable changes and a growing interest in oriental cultures.

The main scripts present in the jokes were shown and their relations to the broader stereotypes were analyzed. The major features present in humorous texts may be divided into four groups. The first one is connected with visual differences and strangeness. The second focuses on differences in manners – especially habits connected with food. The third category consists of texts pinpointing the language which is perceived as very difficult and incomprehensible, and totally different from Polish or any other European language. The fourth more complex phenomenon is having its reflection in jokes with a political dimension.

The analysis shows how much still needs to be done to make the knowledge about these two cultures more widespread so that an average Pole could overcome the clichés and gain the more precise data that would influence the quality of information included in the jokes. In spite of numerous differences between the Chinese and the Japanese characteristic features described in the jokes there are also many common features making them just belong to the group of texts about strangers one would like to know something more about.


jokes, Poles, Chinese, Japanese, stereotypes, humor, culture.

Code [ID]:

CP201015V00S01A0003 [0003325]

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