analytical Q May-Aug 2000 Sept-Dec 2000 Jan-Apr 2001 Discussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

20 February 2001 Tuesday



Germans, I'm told, begin their speech by giving definitions of what they are going to talk about.

Americans like to start with a joke.

The Norwegians have a different sense of humour from the Americans. I'll never forget the reaction of the conservatively dressed American (male) energy executives to the joke told by a Norwegian top executive. It was politically incorrect, and the audience squirmed in their seats before letting out an uncomfortable chuckle.

The English begin by establishing common ground with the host country or audience. In Germany, this particular English speaker recalled fondly his internship there and his passion for football.

I suppose the Japanese begin by thanking everyone. And the Chinese? I would imagine the Chinese would make sure everyone is addressed properly: Gentlemen, Ladies, the Honourable Right, the Honourable Left.

Unfortunately I have not had the benefit of listening to a Chinese or Japanese speaker. When I give a speech, I like to tell the audience what I'm going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what I've told them.

The joke told by the Norwegian?
Actually it was more of a story than a joke.
A young teacher asked her kindergarten class how many birds were left in a tree after a gun was shot at one of four birds.
A little boy answered NONE.
She shook her head and pointed out that four minus one was three.
He responded,"But all the birds would fly away when they hear the gunshot!"
Then he asked the teacher: "There are three ladies sitting on a bench. One is licking a banana. Another is sucking it. The third is breaking it up and putting the pieces into her mouth one by one. Now tell me, which one is married?"
Red in the face, the young teacher guessed,"It must be the one licking the banana."
"No," he said. "It's the one wearing the wedding ring."