The Linguistic Analysis of Jokes
Routledge – 2003 – 256 pages
Series: Routledge Studies in Linguistics
This book starts from three observations. First, the use of humour is a complex, puzzling, and idiosyncratically human form of behaviour (and hence is of scientific interest). Second, there is currently no theory of how humour works. Third, one useful step towards a theory of humour is to analyze humorous items in precise detail, in order to understand their mechanisms.
The author begins by considering how to study jokes rigorously: the assumptions to make, the guidelines to follow and the pitfalls to avoid. A critique of other work on humour is also provided. This introduces some important concepts, and also demonstrates the lack of agreement about what a theory of humour should look like. The language devices used in various jokes, such as puns or humour based on misinterpretation, are analysed in detail. The central part of the book develops, and demonstrates, proposals for how best to analyze the workings of simple jokes. Finally, the author makes some general suggestions about the language devices that seem to be central to the construction of jokes.
The Linguistic Analysis of Jokes will be invaluable for researchers and advanced students of humour research, linguistics and cognitive science.
' … an exceptionally detailed and sophisticated analysis of puns that is far superior to any of its predecessors. His discussions of humour theory, of the nature of humorous incongruity and of the very varied mechanisms that make jokes work are likewise entertaining. Ritchie has written a notable book that belongs in the library of anyone interested in linguistic analysis or indeed in humour.' - Walter De Gruyter Publishers
'It is written in a lucid style to benefit those with less technical knowledge of the field too.' - Linguist List
'Graeme Ritchie's book is definately a learning experience. Reader-friendly, written in a lucid style, and yet rigorous in argumentation, it is a pleasure to read. Ritchie takes his readers on a tour of selected sights of the complex world of humor research.' - Journal of Pragmatics
Graeme Ritchie has been carrying out research in artificial intelligence and computational linguistics since 1973, investigating topics such as morphology, parsing, semantics and creativity. In recent years, he has helped to pioneer the computer modelling of verbal humour. He is a senior lecturer in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.