December 5, 2007

European stereotypes

I found this piece of an article by Richard Hill on the Dialogin site (link to your right)

Summing up the stereotypes

“A group of people meet at the National Geographic Society in London and decide that, for the next meeting, everybody has to present a treatise on the elephant. They all return the following year and present their volumes.

The German has a 700-page dissertation: Beschreibung des männlichen Elephantes in Ost-Afrika. 1. Teil (description of the male elephant of East Africa, Part I).
The Englishman has a small, sober, black leather-bound book entitled “Elephants I have shot”.
The American has an 8-page booklet in colour, “How to make bigger and better elephants”,
while the Frenchman has a small tastefully presented book on L'amour des éléphants (‘The love life of elephants’).
The Pole presents a book called ‘The elephant and its relation to the Polish Problem’,
while the Swede has a greyish book called Elefanter och hur man titulerar dem (‘Elephants and how to address them’).
The Dane presents a book of recipes: Elefant på 100 måder (‘100 ways to cook an elephant’),
while the Norwegian has a book entitled Norge og vi nordmænd (‘Norway and we Norwegians’).”

This is probably the most comprehensive cultural joke in existence. It was devised, I suspect, by a group of very imaginative Danes…

Richard Hill is a consultant specialising in intercultural communications and cross-cultural affairs.


Roam2Rome said...

I found this one amusing!

You're right, it must have been written by a Dane!

A little viking birdie told me that Danes call Norwegians "nordmænd" while the Norwegians themselves say "normenn".

Plus, the high % representation of Scandinavian countries in the joke also gives it away, doesn't it?

...a Dane ;)

Elizabeth Abbot said...

sometimes jokes and stereotypes do have a way of exposing a grain of truth!

Anonymous said...

The origin sounds likely to me (I am originally Danish), but I have to say that I first heard (a version of) this joke from a Swedish emeritus professor (~80 y old). He gave it at the banquet of an international scientific conference (~1996). And he did include most nations represented there. Since then I have exchanged it with several Swedes, Danes and others who cared to listen (Norwegians tend to dislike it though). I hadn't heard the line about the Pole before, however. But I may contribute at least one new, which I find amusing (but perhaps only for scientists?): The Russian essay was entitled "Mammoths I ate".