The Linguistics of Humor


Salvatore Attardo

Publication Year





Oxford University Press

The Linguistics of Humor: An Introduction

This book is the first comprehensive and systematic introduction to the linguistics of humor. Salvatore Attardo takes a broad approach to the topic, exploring not only theoretical linguistic analyses, but also pragmatic and semantic aspects, conversation and discourse analysis,
ethnomethodology, and interactionist and variationist sociolinguistics. The volume begins with chapters that introduce the terminology and conceptual and methodological apparatus, as well as outlining the major theories in the field and examining incongruity and resolution and the semiotics of
humor. The second part of the book explores humor competence, with chapters that cover semantic and pragmatic topics, the General Theory of Verbal Humor, and puns and their interpretation. The third part provides an in-depth discussion of the applied linguistics of humor, and examines social
context, discourse and conversation analysis, and sociolinguistic aspects. In the final part of the book, the discussion is extended beyond the central field of linguistics, with chapters discussing humor in literature, in translation, and in the classroom.

The volume brings together the multiple strands of current knowledge about humor and linguistics, both theoretical and applied; it assumes no prior background in humor studies, and will be a valuable resource for students from advanced undergraduate level upwards, particularly those coming to
linguistics from related disciplines.

Editorial Reviews


“Indispensable, both as a text and for deep reading and reflection, giving comprehensive insight into how linguistics applies to humorous communications and the wider realms of humour theory and analysis. This book reflects a lifetime of reading and thinking on the complex and puzzling topic–what
is the nature of humour and how do we research it?” — Jessica Milner Davis, University of Sydney”It is often held to be a scientific ideal that we draw from multiple disciplinary perspectives in advancing our understanding of complex social phenomena such as humour, but we fall short of that ideal for the most part. Professor Attardo shows us how it should be done. In The Linguistics of Humor,

he offers us a masterful and insightful overview that will help both those new to the field, as well as seasoned researchers, navigate the rapidly growing field of humour studies. Throughout the volume he integrates different theoretical and methodological perspectives, resulting in something that
is much more than the simple sum of its parts. This is a must-read for anyone interested in humour studies.” — Michael Haugh, University of Queensland”No doubt the most comprehensive treatment of the linguistic study of humor. Attardo succeeds, in particular, in showing how the phenomenon (or better, phenomena) of humor involve(s) the full complexity of what people do with language.” — Jef Verschueren, University of Antwerp

About the Author

Salvatore Attardo, Professor of Linguistics, Texas A&M University-Commerce

Salvatore Attardo is Professor of Linguistics at Texas A&M University – Commerce. He works primarily on the linguistics of humor, and on issues relating to implicatures, irony, and rationality, and more generally on Neo-Gricean pragmatics. He was Editor-in-Chief of HUMOR: International Journal of
Humor Research for ten years. His publications include Linguistic Theories of Humor (De Gruyter, 1994), Humorous Texts: A Semantic and Pragmatic Analysis (De Gruyter, 2001), and, as editor, The Encyclopedia of Humor Studies (Sage, 2014) and The Handbook of Language and Humor (Routledge, 2017).

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Oxford University Press (June 25, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 496 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0198791283
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0198791287
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.9 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 9.5 x 1.1 x 6.7 inches

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