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Lodz Papers in Pragmatics

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A Relevance-Theoretic Classification of Jokes

Francisco Yus
Published Online: 2008-05-15 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10016-008-0004-4

A Relevance-Theoretic Classification of Jokes

Relevance Theory pictures communication as an inferential activity that adjusts, in parallel, the explicit content of utterances, the implicated premises and conclusions that can be derived, and the right amount of contextual information needed to obtain them. When applied to jokes, a relevance-theoretic classification may be proposed depending on whether the humorist plays with the audience's inferential activity aimed at an explicit interpretation, with the audience's inference devoted to deriving implications or with their access to the right amount and quality of contextual information needed to obtain relevant interpretations. In this paper three types of jokes are proposed which focus on these aspects. A fourth type is also added, but this time referred to broad contextual assumptions on social or cultural values of society that are targeted by humorists.

Keywords: Relevance Theory; humorous effects; jokes; inference; incongruity; humor

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About the article

Published Online: 2008-05-15

Published in Print: 2008-01-01

Citation Information: Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 131–157, ISSN (Online) 1898-4436, ISSN (Print) 1895-6106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/v10016-008-0004-4.

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