Thursday, 12 September 2013

That's Funny!

It came to me when Allison Pearson posted a tweet about how funny she thought the American pronunciation of "Putin" is: Poohtin, rather than the British "Pyootin" It obviously didn't occur to her that there is a Russian pronunciation to a Russian name.

Never mind the ins and outs of  the correct pronunciation ("Murkl", anyone?) - but why is everything that doesn't mirror the British way automatically classified as "funny"?  I've endured countless anecdotes of British people's adventures abroad: It always involves a point of "funny foreigners". Funny as in odd, and as in laughable of course.

No baked beans and wodges of fatty bacon first thing in the morning? That funny German breakfast. No leggings and voluminous t-shirts? Funny way of dressing the French have. No fleece jackets in winter? That's so funny.

And of course no British habits are ever funny. They are just, well normal, the way you do it. No funny business. Given that fewer and fewer British  people can afford to go abroad., that hardly anybody speaks a foreign language ("That sounds funny!") and  therefore information about other countries and cultures is  heavily curtailed, I envisage a veritable barrage of baffled reactions in the future. Except it isn't funny, it's sad.

Finding others funny rather than interesting smacks of provincialism to me. It is also incredibly short sighted. Just imagine what you could learn when you start thinking about doing things differently, and why cultures aren't all the same. And that your own perspective isn't necessarily the best one, and that there are many different ways of doing things without the one necessarily being better. Start thinking, and stop finding everything new "funny", and see what a multitude of perspectives you gain!


  1. I must post a comment which was sent to me on twitter which couldn't prove my point any better -it is also comic gold:
    "Of course Allison Person knows that there is a Russian pronunciation, it's just that Obama's pronunciation sounds funny to us".

  2. I couldn't agree with you more M :-) an as usual well written piece

  3. Some Brits also stubbornly cling to the WW2-era, propaganda-inspired stereotypes of their European neighbours.
    Somehow, these stereotypes are still considered funny or even clever by broad sections of British society.