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BY 3.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2018

Approaching wordplay from the angle of phonology and phonetics – examples from German

From the book Expanding the Lexicon

  • Angelika Braun


The present contribution seeks to outline what a phonetic approach can contribute to the study of wordplay. Therefore, it is confined to the analysis wordplay at the syllable level of language. To this end, a taxonomy of wordplay based on structural elements of the syllable is proposed. It emphasizes the distinction between wordplay relying on existing lexical items as opposed to creating new ones. Various mechanisms of “classical” wordplay are examined with respect to their effect on syllable structure. A quantitative study involving 213 items intended for a German audience is presented. Specifically, the following questions are addressed: (1) what is the distribution among the various types of wordplay at the syllable level; (2) which part of the syllable is played on, and (3) which mechanisms are most frequently used in this type of wordplay. Results show that paronymy and blending are the most frequent types of wordplay. Furthermore, there is a clear preference for the syllable onset to be played on.

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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