The Semantics of Colour: a Historical Approach

Dr C. P. Biggam, Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, writes here about her new book ‘The Semantics of Colour’ . . . → Read More: The Semantics of Colour: a Historical Approach

Meaning and Humour

A blog by Andrew Goatly

To what extent is humour a liberating force? According to the theory advanced in Meaning and Humour, humour defeats expectations or introduces incongruities. And, linguistically speaking, this can be analysed as an overriding of lexical priming (Hoey), or as surprising foregrounding (Leech). For example, consider this joke:

“Give a man a fish–feed him for a day. Give a man two fish—feed him for two days”.


Internally the second sentence is not foregrounded—it is entirely predictable, to the point of near redundancy. Whereas externally, according to the expectations of this epigrammatic genre, where we anticipate something clever, unpredictable, entropic, the second sentence is foregrounded. The fact that most humour depends upon the overriding of lexical priming or startling departures from . . . → Read More: Meaning and Humour