The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 9, No 4 (2021)

Overcoming awkwardness: some interpretations of Australian humour

Jocelyn Valerie Chey


As Chinese people engaged with the Australian cultural scene in recent years, two posts about its humour attracted considerable attention from netizens in the People’s Republic of China.  The post authors believed that their firsthand accounts of events demonstrated how Australians used humour to overcome awkward situations and regarded this as an essential national characteristic. In each case, other interpretations were possible if cultural factors had been taken into account, including the contemporary culture of China, Putonghua language usage and the Anglo-centrism that is common to cross-cultural studies.  This exploratory generalist textual study concludes that the authors’ interpretations were largely determined by their cultural bias and by traditional regard for ‘face’ and politeness, and reflect the fact that, ultimately, the extent of cross-cultural communication is governed by international politics.


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