Linguistics and Humor



Both psychologists and linguists have discussed the nature of linguistic humor as distinct from forms of humor based on such cultural categories as politics or obscenity or on cognitive categories such as the visual stimulus of slapstick. Linguists have been primarily concerned with manipulations of grammatical categories in producing humorous effect (Green & Pepicello, 1978; Hockett, 1977; Pepicello, 1980; Scott, 1965, 1969). Psychologists have primarily dealt with linguistic humor as an extension of the study of incongruity and its resolution (e.g., Shultz & Robillard, 1980; Suls, 1972). However, both types of study share a common focus, namely, that much of the linguistic humor that appears in traditional riddles and jokes is based on ambiguity, that is, on a word or phrase that has more than one possible meaning.


Relative Clause Block Element Minimal Pair Lexical Ambiguity Ambiguous Sentence 
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Reference Note

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© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1983

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