Sunday, May 24, 2009

Rosetta Stone language software can’t help you tell a joke


One of the hardest things for someone learning a foreign language is to make a joke in that language.
Rosetta Stone Inc., the language-learning software company, says a full course of 120 hours can get you to a conversational level of fluency. Its language-immersion products can teach you to do more than navigate and get things done, but to have a conversation and give opinions in a foreign language, Rosetta Stone CEO Tom Adams told me for Investor’s Business Daily recently.
“How about tell a joke?” I asked Adams.
“Tell a joke? That’s the hardest thing. That’s always hard to teach. You either have a sense of humor or you don’t,” Adams said with a laugh.
Adams, by the way, speaks Swedish, English and French fluently. He has a working knowledge of Spanish, speaks some Chinese and is now learning Russian.
Here’s a joke (told to me by a multilingual acquaintance):

Q: If someone who speaks two languages is bilingual, what do you call someone who speaks one language?

A: American

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