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*-For more on Esperanto humor, see my 1988 article, “Esperanto: the international language of humor; or, What's funny about Esperanto?” Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 1(2): 143-157.
Because language is a particularly salient issue for most Esperanto speakers, and therefore often surfaces as a topic of common interest, there is a good deal of self-consciousness in Esperanto speech, leading, of course, to verbal gaming.*
Some jokes involve extending the paradigms of Esperanto to create implausible but (often) theoretically possible forms:
Some of these forms even attain a kind of concise elegance:
Others are silly because of their deliberately unmanageable length:
A particularly common (if childish) game is the ridiculous over-extension of the prefix mal-. The creation of frivolous “opposites” has been invented over and over in the course of Esperanto history.
Other jokes satirize individuals or organizations prominent in the Esperanto movement. They are funny or not depending upon how stuck-in-the-mud you are, but they fall beyond the scope of this book. The point is that jokes abound, and if something seems jarring, offensive, or even unintelligible, one possibility is that it is a well-intentioned joke. When nothing makes any sense at all, a vague smile is probably your best defense. (But then, you already knew that.)
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