Lifelearner Network Rotating Header Image


75. HUMOR – Specific

Are there humorous radio or TV programs? What topics are covered? Are these family or adult oriented? Watch or listen to one of these programs and isolate the humorous elements. Who did or said what to whom? Was one person or object the target? Why? Did the episode have teaching or merely entertainment value?

Are there people who make their living by entertainment? Is this gender specific?

What is their role in society? Are they respected? Are they all members of one tribe, clan, or family? Do they ply their trade only on the media, or are there local venues or spontaneous opportunities available? If so, who are the targeted audience—children? adults? men? women? anyone?

Is there a newspaper with cartoons or a comic section? What or who is their subject?

74. HUMOR – General

What makes people laugh? When they are embarrassed? When someone says something perceived as funny? Children at play? Other reasons?

Who do they poke fun at and when? children? adults? people they know well? people from another group? How does the target person or group react to this? What are acceptable methods of teasing someone?

What inflections or voice modulations are used to indicate a humorous statement in contrast to a serious one? What about accompanying body language?

Are there stories or legends about a comic person (as Don Quixoti)? Do these teach a lesson as well as provide an opportunity for a laugh? On what occasions are such stories retold? Look at or listen to one with a friend and retell it to another friend along with your understanding of its meaning.

Are there ethnic jokes about another tribe or nationality? Are these said with hatred? with sarcasm? in good fun?

As you investigate this topic, see if there are areas where humor would differ in your own country. Are there incidents in your new culture which are considered humorous or witty but would be regarded as insult or damaging in your native culture—and vice versa?


At what age do boys and girls become ready for marriage? Describe the method by which marriage arrangements are made. Are the arrangements made by the parents? If so, how much say do the boy and girl have in determining who their marriage partner will be?

What characteristics are looked for in a potential husband? in a potential wife? Ask about physical, educational, financial, religious, political aspects that need to be considered.

Is courting allowed? Do the boy and girl get to know each other at all before the wedding? What standards must they follow if this is allowed. How is courting initiated, and by whom? Are there different expectations if the prospective pair are from the same neighborhood or from another town? Is a chaperon needed?

Are there kinship restrictions as to whom a person can marry? Clan or tribal restrictions? Can two persons marry if they have nursed from the same woman even though they may not be related by blood line?

When marriage is considered, which side takes the initiative in making a formal proposal? Is there an engagement ritual? Who takes part in this? How long is the period between engagement and the wedding? What activities take part in each home (the groom and the bride) during this time? What preparations need to be made by the girl? by the boy? How binding is the engagement? What happens if the engagement is broken? Who takes the initiative in breaking the engagement?

Is a dowry expected? or a bride price paid? If so, what are the expectations? Who does the negotiations? Is the immediate family responsible for the payment (or preparation), or does the extended family also contribute?


When is a child considered to be a real person (from birth? by some physical change? by attaining a certain age? at a naming ceremony?) How does a child get its name? Why is a certain name chosen?

When and how is the child weaned? What happens if the mother’s milk is insufficient? Are there wet- nurses? What relationship does a wet-nurse then hold in the family? to the child? How does the child receive toilet training? By whom? At what age is this begun? At what age do children of either sex habitually wear lower garments?

Are children generally treated well? How is love shown to a child (by the father, by the mother, by siblings, by the grandparents or other relatives)? How are children instructed in the society’s customs and history? Is this done as a situation presents itself, or is a specific program followed? How can a child be protected from illness and injury?

How are children taught proper behavior? Are they told frightening stories to encourage good behavior? or are heroes held up as models to follow? How may they be punished? Are girls punished differently than boys?

Are children of either gender treated preferentially? If so, how and at what age does it begin? At what age are girls treated differently than boys? Are there different expectations for behavior in boys and girls? What qualities of character are considered desirable for each?

With whom does the child have the closest relationship? Does this change as the child gets older? Who seems to love the child most? Who helps care for young children?

At what age are children expected to begin doing chores? What type and are these gender- specific? When are they expected to take part in religious observances and rituals?


What patterns of visiting do you observe in the village or around your neighborhood? When do people generally visit each other (time of day, slack times in the year, special occasions, etc.)? Which people tend to visit each other often? Are they friends, neighbors, relatives? Do they give prior notice before visiting?

Do people visit from out-of-town? Are they friends, relatives, strangers? Are they people of the same ethnic group? Do they give prior notice of their arrival? How often do they come? What do they come for (business, social call, visit a sick person, attend a ceremony, etc.)? How long do they stay? Do they bring their own bedding or food, or is it the duty of the host to provide those?

What is the host’s responsibility to visitors? Is there a difference if the visitor is a close friend or relative in the same village, a friend or relative from another village, a stranger of the same ethnic group, a stranger from a different ethnic group, a person with status no matter where he is from, a woman, etc.?

Looking at these same categories, what is expected of each type of visitor? Should he/she bring a hostess gift? If so, what kind is acceptable? Are these gifts given in kind (same kind of gift you received)?

What words of welcome are used? What are the first topics talked about with visitors? Is this dependent on the reason for the visit (funeral, illness, etc.)? How does a host indicate to a visitor that he is not welcome or that it is time for him to leave? How does the visitor indicate that he/she is ready to leave? Are there certain actions that indicate the termination of a visit?

How soon after arrival is something to eat or drink served? Are visitors ever left alone, or is there always a family member present?


Why do people hunt? What proportion of the food supply is obtained through hunting? How is the meat or bones divided? What is done with the hide?

What weapons and what methods (e.g., tracking, lying in ambush) are used in hunting? Are baits or decoys used? Traps? Is hunting an individual or group activity? Who participates in the hunt? Are there any restrictions (e.g., abstinence from sex or certain foods) on individuals before a hunt? Is there a particular territory within which a person or village may hunt?

Which animals are hunted? Is hunting a regular or intermittent activity? Is any type of game conservation practiced? Is this locally monitored or regulated by an outside agency?

Which birds are considered edible? How are they hunted? Are the eggs of any birds collected and eaten?

Do some make their livelihood by fishing? Are fish caught for home consumption alone or are some sold or bartered?

Describe all methods of fishing and sketch or photograph nets, traps, and other fishing equipment. Is fishing done from a boat or from the shoreline? What bait is used?

Is fishing done by both men and women? Are some methods used more by one than the other?

If possible, go fishing with some of your new friends. Have someone tell you about their fishing experience. Do they tell tall tales about the “one that got away?”


Dictionary definition: Arts and Crafts: the creative design of everyday objects

What creative objects and decorations have you observed? How are they used? What value do they seem to have (are they in a place of honor? worn on special occasions)? Who makes them? Are they made at certain times of the year? Are certain crafts associated with ritual practices? Are any crafts gender specific? Do any crafters cross the gender expectation and what do local people think of these people.

What decorative (as opposed to utilitarian) features are used in crafts to make them more attractive? What standards of beauty are there and how does this affect the value of the article? What artistic expressions are found? Are there patterns which are followed or is there room for free expression? Do these appear in special objects or at special occasions (e.g. house decoration, pottery, carving)?

Are the materials for these crafts available locally? If not, how are they obtained?

How are children taught various crafts? At what ages?

Is the activity necessary in order to have the item? or can the item be bought commercially as well? Are formerly hand-made items no longer made because of their availability commercially? What motivates a person to make an item by hand? Which items are more valued– those made commercially, or those made by hand?

Which crafts bring in supplementary income? Is the income pooled with other family funds or does it remain personal property?


During which times of the day do people have more leisure? During which times of the year? What do people do in their leisure time? Do they sing, carve, sew, visit, tell stories, travel, go to a movie, watch TV, gamble, etc.? How much time is taken up with these activities? Are they done individually or as a group?

What do people do when they go to town or to the main shopping or recreation areas? Do people eat out, and if so, how often would they do this? Are there places to just sit and talk? Are there parks and do many people enjoy them? What kind of facilities are available in public places (entertainment, rest rooms, eating)?

What games do children play? Are any similar to ones played in your own country? What toys do children have? Who makes the toys? Or are they bought commercially? Sketch and describe the production and use of one or more local toys.

Do adults play games? If so, what and when? What kind of clothing is worn? by men? by women? Is this only appropriate for games and sports? Are any sports gender specific? Is this changing?

Do any games have a ritualistic significance? Are any used in courting? during the wedding activities? What games do adults play with children? Are these just for amusement, or for teaching?

What sports are played? By whom? Are these played by people in the neighborhood or only by professionals? Are uniforms worn? Are certain sports played at particular times of the year? What is the general interest level for participation? for cheering?

What amusements have been introduced as a result of contact with outsiders? Do people enjoy learning a new game? Describe the rules for playing one or more games.

In which recreational activities would it be appropriate for you to participate? What linguistic or physical skills do you need to develop in order to participate acceptably? How do people try to teach you the rules for participating?


Are nuclear families (husband, wife, and their children) the norm, or do people live in extended families, including multiple generations?

What does each member contribute to family life? What degree of cooperation is there between members of the family?

What evidence do you see of sibling rivalry? How is this dealt with? Do boys get away with more than girls, or is it the opposite? How and what kind of discipline is administered? Is it the same for all, or is it given according to the behavior?

Watch the interactions between members of the family. How is respect shown? When tempers flare, is it justified? Are there overt demonstrations of love?

In and around the home, what is the division of labor gender specific? according to age? according to relationship? Try to assess how much work is done by each member. Note the amount of cooperation there is in performing certain tasks. What jobs are done daily? seasonally? whenever there is a demand?

Do any of the households have servants? How are they cared for? Are they paid a wage? What is their status? Are there any jobs that some servants would not do because they would feel it was below their status to do them? What hierarchy is there between servants?

Does the family do things together during leisure times, like play games, tell stories, watch TV, or do crafts, etc.? What other things are done in the home by individual members, like handwork, woodworking, computer, or reading?

Do members of the family go to children’s sports or cultural events?


Living areas

How are the rooms arranged? around a courtyard? in a linear fashion?

How many rooms are there in this house? Are they interconnected? Does one key give you access, or does each room need a key?

How many people live in the house? are they a single family unit, or an extended family?

What kind of furniture is in the room in which you are seated? Note floor covering, curtains, and other decoration on the floor, walls, or ceiling. Is there anything that surprises you?

What other rooms are in your host’s home? Are there rooms that are off-limits to a visitor? If you can see into other rooms, what other furniture is there? Does the furniture tell you what the room is used for? Do rooms seem to be multi-purpose or have a specific use?

Do the furnishings in the house give you a clue as to the economic status of the occupants?

Where do the children play? indoors? outdoors? Is this a secure area?

Working areas

Where is the kitchen located? What kind of stove is used for cooking? What kind of fuel is used for cooking? Where and how is this available?

Where are the dishes, utensils, pots and pans stored? Where are supplies like flour, sugar, onions, etc. stored?

Where do the dishes get washed? What is used to scour pans? Are spotless pans a thing of pride? Are the dishes drip-dried or dried with a towel?

What do you think their standard of cleanliness is in comparison with yours?

Where is cleaning equipment kept, like brooms, sweepers, etc. What kind of equipment is used for cleaning? Does the type of building determine this?

Is there electricity? For how many hours a day? Hot and cold running water? Otherwise, how is water heated? Is this done only when needed, at certain times of the day?

Where is the laundry done? Are bigger pieces (sheets, etc.) sent out to be washed? Is the laundry at home done by hand or by machine? What kind of soap is used? Where are clothes hung out to dry?

Is there a special area for chopping wood? for preparing vegetables or meat for cooking? for keeping seedlings for planting in the garden? for keeping animals?

When you return home:

Draw a diagram of the house with any special observations about the various rooms and use of space. Add to this as you visit more homes.

404 Not Found

404 Not Found