Telling Jokes in the UK by Ruth Yao

Did you have a hard time communicating with host country nationals when you arrived? Share an example. Did you adjust your communication strategies in response? How?

I would like to make a joke about difficulties communicating once coming to England. However, everyone who knows me also knows that my jokes are the absolute worst. For instance, my favorite joke is about a tomato…why did the tomato blush???

because he saw the salad dressing.

Since coming to England, I’ve had no major difficulties in communication. All communication errors were due to myself getting too excited and not being able to form words. But all bad jokes aside, the few times I’ve had difficulties understand a local British person is because of the slang. The word keen seems to be used to describe everything, literally everything. “That person was keen.” “That person was keen to [verb].” “Ah that’s so keen!” They use keen like a teenage American girl says “like”.

Another fun one is how grown men call people honey. In the past I’ve only been called honey by kind old women or sweet workers at Bruff who swipe my mealcard. Here, literally the trendiest men will call you honey. I’m trying to think of more unique, less understandable slang, but it’s impossible. How can you remember the word you never heard before, left you confused, and you never understood.

British use of slang has been the only hurdle in communicating. I’ve adjusted my strategy from asking every time someone used slang, to just nodding and continuing the conversation, trying my best to guess what it meant from context clues. It’ll work just fine for now.


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