One of the most difficult things about grasping another culture is not necessarily acquiring the language - in fact, that may be one of the easiest - yay, right?!?? The more difficult task is 'translating' the wordplay of a particular culture. What we mean by that is navigating the idioms and expressions that make sense (and may be funny) to a particular set of people that might not be directly translatable to you. Make sense? I hope so, but let's take a look at an example. Have you ever said "till the cows come home" or "coughing up a lung" or "everything but the kitchen sink"? Translate these into another language and the stares will commence. It's even harder with comedy. Which is why the following is SO fascinating - a TED talk by a comedian, Maysoon Zayid who liberally sprinkles wordplay into her speech. First, for anyone who is a TED fan (and if you're not, you'll find something in TED talks that grab your attention), there are volunteer translators who take video transcripts and translate them into 33 different languages, they also do closed captioning of these vids. Anyway, when a speaker uses wordplay, such as Ms Zayid, it can be very challenging for a translator to get the information across - and with humor, even more so. I'll stop blathering on and post the link - it's totally worth the read and viewing:
Massive props to the TED translator volunteers by the way!