Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

StudyTakes Serious Look At How Jokes Work

17.05.2002


An academic at the University of Edinburgh is attempting to solve the riddle of how jokes work — and to set up a way of analyzing the language used in jokes — as part of wider research into humour. Dr Graeme Ritchie is not investigating how funny particular jokes are, as opinions about that vary widely. Instead, he is looking at whether something is or is not a joke, about which there is more agreement. He plans to experiment, to see how much agreement there is amongst people as to what actually constitutes a joke. His work aims to improve general understanding of the way people communicate with each other.



Dr Ritchie’s work is focused upon jokes, as they are small enough to describe easily, and tend to be self-contained. His research involves studying classes of jokes, refining the abstract concepts used to describe the data and developing ways to analyse the data based on these ideas. Existing concepts from theoretical linguistics would be used as basic notions to construct an account of humorous effects, and develop guidelines.

Dr Ritchie of the University’s Institute for Communicating and Collaborative Systems, supported by a fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, will use methods previously employed in the study of linguistics, to look at the way jokes are constructed. He will draw upon material from joke books, the Internet and academic books and ‘dismantle’ jokes, rephrasing them to discover the linguistic features which make jokes work.


He added: “Humour is complex, but largely unexplained behaviour. It has great importance in culture and society, but we do not know why it should have developed. The explanation is not obvious, as it might be in the case of a key human ‘drive’, like the need to feed. Despite centuries of philosophical discussion, we are very far from having a full and complete theory of humour.”

“Modern linguistics builds upon centuries of detailed descriptive work, but humour research has very little analysed data on which to base theories. To make progress, research into humour has to take a similar step to linguistics, and we need to produce precise and detailed scientific accounts,” he said.

“The outcome of this research will be the creation of a theoretical framework, that is, a set of basic linguistic ideas and methods suitable for spelling out the mechanisms that underlie jokes. This will lay the foundations for further research, including psycholinguistic experiments,” said Dr Ritchie.

Linda Menzies | alphagalileo

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Fighting myocardial infarction with nanoparticle tandems
04.12.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Virtual Reality for Bacteria
01.12.2017 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

15.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

One in 5 materials chemistry papers may be wrong, study suggests

15.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

New antbird species discovered in Peru by LSU ornithologists

15.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>