LINGUIST List 14.2408

Fri Sep 12 2003

Diss: Pragmatics/Discourse Analysis: Ermida

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. iermida, Humour, Language and Narrative

Message 1: Humour, Language and Narrative

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 11:46:35 +0000
From: iermida <>
Subject: Humour, Language and Narrative

Institution: University of Minho at Braga
Program: English Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2002

Author: Isabel Ermida 

Dissertation Title: Humour, Language and Narrative: Towards a
Discourse Analysis of Literary Comedy

Linguistic Field: 	Pragmatics 
			Discourse Analysis 

Subject Language: 	English (code: ENG )

Dissertation Director 1: Victor Raskin
Dissertation Director 2: Emilia Pedro

Dissertation Abstract: 

	This thesis aims to investigate and discuss the ways in which
humour is linguistically and pragmatically rendered in English
literary narratives. Being an elusive and controversial object of
analysis, humour takes on further configurational complexities in the
corpus under focus. Be it on the linguistic, narrative, literary or
communicative levels, humorous short stories require an
interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological background. Although
the title of this work generically reads "discourse analysis",
insights from other disciplines - such as morpho-syntax,
lexico-semantics, narratology and conversational analysis - also come
into play.

	The first chapter consists of a critical review of the
conceptual and lexicological evolution of humour throughout history,
as well as the polemics relative to its definition. Besides, it looks
into the three main theories of humour - namely Disparagement, Release
and Incongruity - with special emphasis being laid on their linguistic
applicability. The important dimension of humour as a communicative
act is also discussed.

	The second chapter focuses on the specifically linguistic
resources of which humour makes use. By quoting varied examples, taken
from the corpus and beyond, this discussion tries to assess the
humorous potential that the different levels of linguistic analysis
conceal. Therefore, sounds, morphemes, words and sentences, as well as
questions regarding collocational and logical games, are analysed so
as to foreground the vital issue of ambiguity, which keys different
types of pun and comic effect.

	The third chapter concentrates on the textual dimension of
humour, seeking to unveil the general principles which render humorous
texts a specific genre. On the double level of the joke and the comic
tale, this comparative analysis tries to evaluate the relevance of the
linguistic theories of the joke (especially Raskin's and Giora's) for
the understanding of longer and far more complex textual sequences.

	In view of the gaps detected in current analysis, but also
taking into account the applicability of some of the contributions
reviewed, the fourth chapter seeks to complement the theoretical
background discussed so far, by searching for more complete analytical
and methodological tools. On the "text / utterance" level, it makes a
critical, albeit succinct, approach to narratological issues,
highlighting those that are operative for the analysis of humorous
stories. On the "context / uttering" level, it discusses a few crucial
points - illustrated with examples from the corpus - relative to the
pragmatics of comic narratives.

	The fifth and last chapter puts forward a model of analysis of
humorous narratives. It is "alternative" to the extent that it
emphasizes a non-linear approach to textual information, and it
consists of five semantico-pragmatic principles, which hypothetically
regulate all comic narrative texts. This model is applied deductively
to the seven texts selected. The analysis of each of these departs
from a descriptive account of its linguistic and structural
organization, so as to eventually assess its degree of conformity to
the model proposed. This procedure aims at confirming the existence of
meaning and discourse regularities in literary narrative comedies,
which transcend their thematic, stylistic and formal diversity.
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