LINGUIST List 15.1345

Thu Apr 29 2004

Diss: Phonology: Hempelmann: 'Paronomasic Puns ...'

Editor for this issue: Tomoko Okuno <>


  1. hempelma, Paronomasic Puns: Target Recoverability towards Automatic Generation

Message 1: Paronomasic Puns: Target Recoverability towards Automatic Generation

Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2004 10:31:27 -0400 (EDT)
From: hempelma <>
Subject: Paronomasic Puns: Target Recoverability towards Automatic Generation

Institution: Purdue University
Program: Interdepartmental Program in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Christian F Hempelmann

Dissertation Title:
Paronomasic Puns: Target Recoverability towards Automatic Generation

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field:
Applied Linguistics,
Computational Linguistics,
Text/Corpus Linguistics

Dissertation Director 1: Victor Raskin
Dissertation Director 2: Salvatore Attardo
Dissertation Director 3: Mary Niepokuj
Dissertation Director 4: Sergei Nirenburg

Dissertation Abstract:

The aim of this dissertation is to create a theory to model the
factors, prominently, but not exclusively the phonological similarity,
important in imperfect punning and to outline the implementation of
this measure for the evaluation of possible imperfect puns given an
input word and a set of possible target words. Imperfect,
heterophonic, or paronomasic, puns differ from perfect, homophonic
puns in that the target is different in sound from the pun. While
homophonic puns are interesting for the linguist primarily with
respect to their semantics, heterophonic puns present a research issue
also to the phonologist, because they use one of two similar sound
sequences to stand for both meanings associated with them, for
example, bang to denote a noise as well as a financial
institution. The specific question here is, how much contrast is
possible between the pun and its target to make the latter
recoverable, in terms of the semantics, phonology, and syntax of the
pun-target pair and its context. The theoretical framework for the
phonological part of this project is inspired by a recent version of
Optimality Theory (OT), adopted in phonology, because it is able to
describe the occurrence of related forms through a selection process
from among possible candidate forms more appropriately than
derivational approaches can by way of rules operating on one input
form and yielding one output form. Taking more parameters---both
phonological and syntactic---into account than previous studies, this
project is intended to describe the linguistics of the imperfect pun
in terms of a set of hierarchies of constraints weighing the
differences found between the puns and targets of a sample
corpus. Based on this measure, I will outline a computational
implementation of the results that can evaluate an input word with
respect to a set of existing English words from a machine-readable
dictionary. The basic idea is to assign values to constraint
violations and combinations thereof and then adding up the "penalty"
for each violation in which a possible target does not conform to the
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