UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 8 (1996)

The implicit expression of attitudes, mutual manifestness and verbal humour



This paper argues that intentional humour often consists in implicitly expressing an attitude of disengagement towards an attributable assumption which is made strongly mutually manifest by the implicit import of an utterance, and suggests that such cases should be regarded as instances of echoic use. The role of the entertainment of the incongruous in the recovery of a humorous interpretation is discussed, and the status of the notion of incongruity in a theory of verbal humour is reconsidered. The analysis proposed here accomodates humorous cases of verbal irony as sub-cases of the generalization suggested and separates in a principled way those which are not.

[PDF file]