Semantic Mechanisms of Humor

Front Cover
Springer Science & Business Media, Dec 31, 1984 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 284 pages
1 Review
GOAL This is the funniest book I have ever written - and the ambiguity here is deliberate. Much of this book is about deliberate ambiguity, described as unambiguously as possible, so the previous sentence is probably the fIrst, last, and only deliberately ambiguous sentence in the book. Deliberate ambiguity will be shown to underlie much, if not all, of verbal humor. Some of its forms are simple enough to be perceived as deliberately ambiguous on the surface; in others, the ambiguity results from a deep semantic analysis. Deep semantic analysis is the core of this approach to humor. The book is the fIrst ever application of modem linguistic theory to the study of humor and it puts forward a formal semantic theory of verbal humor. The goal of the theory is to formulate the necessary and sufficient conditions, in purely semantic terms, for a text to be funny. In other words, if a formal semantic analysis of a text yields a certain set of semantic proptrties which the text possesses, then the text is recognized as a joke. As any modem linguistic theory, this semantic theory of humor attempts to match a natural intuitive ability which the native speaker has, in this particular case, the ability to perceive a text as funny, i. e. , to distinguish a joke from a non-joke.
 

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Contents

SURVEY OF HUMOR RESEARCH
1
2 IS HUMOR GOOD OR BAD?
9
3 CONDITIONS FOR HUMOR
11
4 PHYSIOLOGY PSYCHOLOGY AND EVOLUTION OF HUMOR
19
5 CLASSIFICATION OF HUMOR
24
6 THEORIES OF HUMOR
30
7 STRUCTURE OF HUMOR
41
THEORY
45
4 SPECIFIC SEXUAL OPPOSITION IN EXPLICITLY SEXUAL HUMOR
165
5 SEXUAL HUMOR IN THE RUSSIAN CHASTUSHKA
170
A SUMMARY
177
ETHNIC HUMOR
180
1 SCRIPT OF LANGUAGE DISORTION
181
2 SCRIPT OF DUMBNESS
185
3 SCRIPT OF STINGINESS
189
4 SCRIPT OF CRAFTINESS
191

FORMAT
47
APPLICATIONS
51
RESEARCH STRATEGY
53
SEMANTIC THEORY
59
2 ELEMENTS OF CONTEXTUAL SEMANTICS
67
3 FORMAT OF SEMANTIC THEORY
76
4 SCRIPTBASED LEXICON
80
5 COMBINATORIAL RULES
85
6 JUSTIFICATION AND EVALUATION OF SEMANTIC THEORY
92
SEMANTIC THEORY OF HUMOR
99
2 JOKE TELLING AS A NONBONAFIDE COMMUNICATION
100
3 SCRIPT OVERLAP
104
4 SCRIPT OPPOSITENESS
107
5 SEMANTIC SCRIPTSWITCH TRIGGERS
114
6 ANALYSIS OF A SAMPLE JOKE
117
SCRIPTBASED INTERPRETATION
127
8 APPARENT COUNTEREXAMPLES
132
9 JOKE CONSTRUCTION
139
SEXUAL HUMOR
148
OVERT UNSPECIFIED
149
OVERT SPECIFIED
154
3 NONSEXUAL OPPOSITION IN EXPLICITLY SEXUAL HUMOR
160
5 NONSTANDARD SPECIFIC SCRIPTS IN ETHNIC JOKES
194
6 SMALLER TARGETED GROUPS IN ETHNIC HUMOR
200
7 NATIONAL SUPERIORITY JOKES
202
8 PSEUDOETHNIC JOKES
205
9 JEWISH HUMOR
209
POLITICAL HUMOR
222
1 DENIGRATION OF A POLITICAL FIGURE
223
2 DENIGRATION OF A POLITICAL BROUP OR INSTUTION
227
3 DENIGRATION OF A POLITICAL IDEA OR SLOGAN
229
4 EXPOSURE OF NATIONAL TRAITS
230
5 EXPOSURE OF POLITICAL EXPRESSION
232
6 EXPOSURE OF SHORTAGES
234
7 EXPOSURE OF SPECIFIC POLITICAL SITUATIONS
235
8 SOVIET POLITICAL HUMOR
237
AFTERWORD
247
ADDITIONAL JOKE EXAMPLES
248
25 COMPLEX JOKES
253
REFERENCES
258
SUBJECT INDEX
268
NAME INDEX
281
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