Semantic Aspects Of Verbal Humour

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Verbal humour is understood as that produced by means of language or text (Raskin, 1986), which includes jokes, witticisms, puns, and so on. Jokes, or humour are something that make people laugh. Also, it is a basic means of social interaction such as building social connections or dealing with unfamiliar situations. In this assignment, I would focus on the semantic aspects of how jokes, particularly verbal and written ones, can evoke laughter.

Firstly, semantic ambiguity is what makes a joke funny. ‘Ambiguity is a central device in much verbally expressed humour.’ (Ritchie, 2004) Semantic ambiguity is conveyed by ‘a word with more than one possible meaning in a context.’ (Oaks, 1994) Verbal humour ‘very often depends for their existence on linguistic ambiguity’. (Lew, 1996) For example, the joke of English comedian Tim Vine said that ‘"You know, somebody actually complimented me on my driving today. They left a little note on the windscreen; it said, 'Parking Fine. ' So that was nice.”’ The punchline depends on two meanings of the phrase ‘parking fine’ which means the parking is nicely done and the illegal parking leads to a fine as punishment. While complimenting the parking is totally opposite to punishment and this strengthens the sense of humour, different semantic interpretations arrived at different recipients of the phrase ‘parking fine’ determine whether the joke is funny or not. Another example is that ‘A writer was moaning because he was turned into a
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