Humorous blends in conversation - from discourse structure to cognition (and back)

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Analyses of conversational joking most often strictly follow a discourse or conversation analytic approach focusing on and starting from features observable on the surface of discourse. In this paper we argue that conversational humor should be described in terms of a specific processing, and thus advocate a cognitive approach to conversational humor. Moreover, we will show how humor-specific processing affects the discourse structure. This culminates in the argument that features observable on the surface of discourse have a different status in relation to the cognitive phenomenon of humor. Some of them facilitate the interpretation of a stretch of talk as humorous and have a rather catalytic function within processing, while others evoke or privilege an interpretation which is subsequently replaced or simultaneously combined with another less prominent interpretation, and thus are directly involved in or trigger the humor-specific disruptive processing. However, prior to showing how models from Cognitive Linguistics can enrich the analysis of conversational joking, we will briefly introduce discourse and conversation analytic approaches to humor from face-to-face interaction in order to reveal their drawbacks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189 - 228
JournalWiener slawistischer Almanach
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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