When is a joke not a joke?

When it's a theoretical framework of communitative lingusitcs

A scientist is trying to determine what makes a joke a joke.

But linguistics expert Graeme Ritchie says his research won't unlock the secret to gag writing.

Instead, the academic will analyse the structure of jokes, examining factors such as the element of surprise, ambiguity, exaggeration or repetition.

Dr Graeme Ritchie, from Edinburgh University, told the Daily Record: "When I've finished the work it will probably be so abstract and abstruse that very few people outside linguists will read it."

"Linguists can study the construction of poems but that doesn't mean they will be able to write sonnets like Shakespeare.

"Humour is complex but largely unexplained behaviour. It has great importance in culture and society but we do not know why it developed.

"The outcome of this research will be the creation of a theoretical framework that is a basic set of linguistic ideas and methods suitable for spelling out the mechanisms that underlie jokes."

Sounds like a laugh a minute...

Published: 17 May 2002

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