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Making jokes in English

Making people laugh is always a good way to break the ice and make friends, especially when you are travelling and maybe don't know anyone in the local area, but it can also lead to problems if jokes go wrong or people take offence. So what types of jokes are there?

Sarcasm is saying something when you actually mean the exact opposite to make fun of someone. For example, if someone says something particularly stupid, someone may so 'Hey! We've got a genius here', but in fact they are questioning the person's intellect. When being sarcastic, tone is everything and can make the difference between a funny joke and an offensive statement. It is best used with people you know well and in person. When sarcastic comments are written, they can just look insulting or people can think you actually mean what you have written and this can lead to communication errors so it is best to avoid it in the written form.

British people love to come up with clever plays on words. The classic example of this is the pun. This is where words with similar sounds are used but with a different meaning. Here are some pun examples: What did the chicken drink in the mornings? Egg-spresso

Why didn't the skeleton go to the party? He had no body to go with

Why was the mushroom so popular? Because he was such a funghi

Some jokes are created using two words that sound the same but have different meanings, such as 'the scientist spilled coffee all over his genes' instead of jeans. This kind of humour is not often seen as offensive, but it can be hard to think of quickly. This is known as a homophone if the word is spelled differently but sounds the same, and a homograph it is spelled the same but has more than one meaning.

Another example is the use of the malaprop or dogberryism. This is when one word is accidentally substituted for another, with comical results. Shakespeare's works are littered with this type of comedy. An example would be in the play Henry IV Part II, when a character says 'you are indicted to dinner' instead of invited, making the viewer think that dinner will not be an enjoyable experience!

The opposite of this is a mondegreen, where the words are said correctly, but misheard by the other person. This is very common in popular music, where people come up with their own version of the lyrics. Some examples include Adele, 'just keep chasing penguins' instead of pavements, or ABBA and 'hear the beat of the tangerine' instead of tambourine.

An oronym is where a word is broken down in a different way to make the meaning change. A famous rhyme in the U.K. demonstrates this: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

We hope you have enjoyed this blog. As always, you will progress more by reading, listening and practising your English so make sure you check out IQ Global for free resources and our YouTube channel. See you next time!

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