Cursos, congressos, seminários, palestras. Eventos não são sérios o tempo inteiro e o humor constantemente é usado para quebrar o gelo e descontrair a audiência.
Ficar de fora quando todos estão rindo não tem a menor graça, assim como não tem graça deixar um orador estrangeiro rir sozinho sem qualquer reação da platéia após aquela piadinha estrategicamente preparada para a ocasião.
O humor requer um conhecimento que vai além das palavras e o intérprete de conferências é peça fundamental nesse momento. Num evento com vários idiomas, contrate e use a tradução simultânea. Assim você não perde o rebolado. Nem a piada!
Veja o artigo de Matthew Jenkin, publicado este mês no The Guardian, sobre como o humor pode ser determinante para a compreensão de uma língua e todo seu entorno cultural:
Why language learners don't have to miss the punchline
Humour can help you get to grips with another language – even if this just means laughing at your own mispronunciations
Heard the one about the grass mud horse? The alpaca-like animal doesn't look immediately hilarious. Cute, but not exactly a rib tickler. So why does the cuddly critter have the Chinese in stitches? The secret lies in how the "cao ni ma's" name is pronounced. Say it one way in Mandarin and it's a harmless creature, say it another way and it means "Fuck your mother".
Don't worry if you missed the punchline. According to Mandarin teacher Dr Gerda Wielander, head of modern languages and cultures at the University of Westminster, there's more to understanding a joke in a foreign language than comprehension of vocabulary and grammar.
She explains: "It is not just a question of linguistic ability but of a profound understanding of the cultural context of the humour." In tonal tongues such as Mandarin, for example, symbolism and satire are built on the fact the language features lots of homonyms – words that sound the same but are written differently. Wielander claims for someone to see the funny side of a gag which exploits that linguistic feature, you need to have a very high level of proficiency in the language.
Humour is an incredible ice-breaker for a language learner eager to form friendships with native speakers. Being unable to share a joke can therefore be as frustrating as it is isolating for the non-expert.
Hannah Ashley, a PR account manager in London, moved to Madrid when she was 19 to immerse herself in the Spanish language. Despite reaching a level of fluency where she could communicate clearly with her peers, an understanding of humour remained depressingly out of reach.
"I always felt that humour was this ceiling that I could never break through," she remembers. "I could never converse with people on the same level as I would with a native English speaker and it was a barrier for making friends. I almost came across as quite a boring person because all I could talk about was factual stuff."
It wasn't just the sheer volume of colloquialisms that was baffling, but also the language's extensive vocabulary, grammar and the potential for wordplay.
Heather Roberts, academic director of the Language Gallery, believes introducing these culturally embedded jokes into the classroom are an opportunity for learning, not a barrier. Misunderstanding puns, repetition, and absurdity is a chance to repair confusion. While explaining a punchline might initially kill the joke, Roberts claims it can shed light on the use of humour in language and help students remember the gag for future use.
"Once the student has gone through that repair process of understanding something funny, it will probably stick with them forever," she adds.
Comedy may frequently end up lost in translation, but that doesn't mean learning a language should be deadpan. Whether it's mispronouncing a word to comic effect or using a term out of context, the ability to laugh at your mistakes is vital for overcoming the challenges of mastering a foreign language.
Polyglot Gaeten Hinojosa admits his initial confusion of the words "tong" and "thong" when learning English made people laugh for all the wrong reasons. The 26-year-old native French and Spanish speaker says he still has to think before he speaks, despite now being fluent enough in the language to study a postgraduate course in the UK.
Having a sense of humour when you make mistakes also helps tackle hesitancy, explains Wielander. You are frequently making a lot of strange noises that you may not have made before and that can be a little embarrassing.
She says: "When learning Mandarin, for example, we spend a lot of time practising the different tones in the initial stages. If you pronounce a syllable in the wrong way then you are saying something really different to what you were intending. Pointing that out to students has a great comic effect. That then stays in students' minds.
"Bringing this kind of humour into the classroom makes the experience stand-out and therefore the learning aim of that particular lesson is remembered."
Whether you're trying to communicate in French or Mongolian, humour is undeniably a great way to lighten the mood and laughter can help fill any awkward silences when practising conversation with strangers. But if you haven't quite got to grips with the cultural nuances of the language and you're afraid of getting tongue tied over a joke, physical humour such as slapstick tends to translate better than verbal gags. Slipping on a banana skin might be the oldest gag in the joke book, but it is a great place to start for a beginner.