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HUMOR

International Journal of Humor Research

Editor-in-Chief: Ford, Thomas E.


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1613-3722
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Volume 31, Issue 4

Issues

Lexical priming in humorous satirical newspaper headlines

Stephen Skalicky
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Applied Linguistics, Georgia State University, 25 Park Place, 15th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30303, USA
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Published Online: 2018-08-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2017-0061

Abstract

Satire is a type of discourse commonly employed to mock or criticize a satirical target, typically resulting in humor. Current understandings of satire place strong emphasis on the role that background and pragmatic knowledge play during satire recognition. However, there may also be specific linguistic cues that signal a satirical intent. Researchers using corpus linguistic methods, specifically Lexical Priming, have demonstrated that other types of creative language use, such as irony, puns, and verbal jokes, purposefully deviate from expected language patterns (e.g. collocations). The purpose of this study is to investigate whether humorous satirical headlines also subvert typical linguistic patterns using the theory of Lexical Priming. In order to do so, a corpus of newspaper headlines taken from the satirical American newspaper The Onion are analyzed and compared to a generalized corpus of American English. Results of this analysis suggest satirical headlines exploit linguistic expectations through the use of low-frequency collocations and semantic preferences, but also contain higher discourse and genre level deviations that cannot be captured in the surface level linguistic features of the headlines.

Keywords: satire; corpus linguistics; Lexical Priming; The Onion

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About the article

Stephen Skalicky

Stephen Skalicky received his PhD from the Department of Applied Linguistics at Georgia State University in 2018. His research focuses on variables that affect the comprehension and production of figurative language using psycholinguistic, corpus, and natural language processing methods. His work has appeared in Language Learning, Discourse Processes, and Journal of Pragmatics.


Published Online: 2018-08-08

Published in Print: 2018-09-25


Citation Information: HUMOR, Volume 31, Issue 4, Pages 583–602, ISSN (Online) 1613-3722, ISSN (Print) 0933-1719, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2017-0061.

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