Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“Was That Funny?”

When my son was little, he went through a time when he would make up jokes and tell us, and watch our reaction and ask “was that funny?” He wanted desperately to catch on to humor, but humor is a whole new way of thinking, and he was only four or five years old.

We started with riddles, I think, jokes in which words had more than one meaning, and then we moved on to knock knock jokes. But when he first started making jokes, he started with pure nonsense.

Around eight, we introduced him to Shel Silverstein, a brilliant poet, who writes books for kids that are also a joy for adults.

(photo courtesy of

Where The Sidewalk Ends
Light in the Attic
Falling Up

We all loved Shel Silverstein. Our son would read the poems aloud to us as we zipped around the back streets of Europe. We never got tired of him. His poems are funny to both children and adults “One Sister for Sale” “The King Who Loved Peanut Butter” . . . and sometimes poignant, or even sad.

Slowly, slowly, our son built up a huge repetoire of humor. Today, he is one of the funniest men I know, albeit most of his wit is very dry, and sometimes . . . I don’t always get it.

And that doesn’t begin to tackle the problem of “what is funny” crossing national and cultural boundaries! I think you have really arrived in a language when you can tell a joke in another language, and the native speakers find it funny.

February 20, 2007 Posted by | Books, Communication, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Joke, Poetry/Literature, Random Musings, Relationships, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I Never Knew There Was a Word for it

From this weeks A-Word-a-Day (see Blogroll)

This week’s theme: porcine words to mark the Chinese new year.

epigamic (ep-i-GAM-ik) adjective

Of or relating to a trait or behavior that attracts a mate.

Examples: In an animal, bright feathers or big antlers.
In a human, a sports car or a big bust.

[From Greek epigamos (marriageable), from epi- (upon) + gamos (marriage).]

-Anu Garg (garg

“The change from the young, intellectual, epigamic Jays, to the more
diplomatically sophisticated Hendersons also reflected a sharp change
in Washington lifestyle.”
Peter D. Carr; It Occurred to Me; Trafford Publishing; 2006.

February 20, 2007 Posted by | Language, Marriage, Relationships, Social Issues, Uncategorized, Women's Issues, Words | 2 Comments