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Understanding Language through Humor

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About the Authors
  • Students often struggle to understand linguistic concepts through examples of language data provided in class or in texts. Presented with ambiguous information, students frequently respond that they don't 'get it'. The solution is to find an example of humour that relies on the targeted ambiguity. Once they laugh at the joke, they have tacitly understood the concept, and then it is only a matter of explaining why they found it funny. Utilizing cartoons and jokes illustrating linguistic concepts, this book makes it easy to understand these concepts, while keeping the reader's attention and interest. Organized like a course textbook in linguistics, it covers all the major topics in a typical linguistics survey course, including communication systems, phonetics and phonology, morphemes, words, phrases, sentences, language use, discourses, child language acquisition and language variation, while avoiding technical terminology.

    • Includes cartoons and jokes that make it easier to understand linguistic concepts
    • Avoids technical terminology
    • Covers all of the topics in a typical survey of linguistics course in a textbook format
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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2011
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139118538
    • contains: 29 b/w illus.
    • availability: Adobe Reader ebooks available from eBooks.com
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Talking to Garfield: human and animal communication
    3. Did I hear that right? The sounds of language
    4. Twisted words: word structure and meaning
    5. Fitting words together: phrase structure and meaning
    6. Meaning one thing and saying another: indirect speech and conversational principles
    7. Fitting the pieces together: the structure of discourse
    8. 'Kids say the darndest things': children acquiring language
    9. Variety is the spice of life: language variation
    10. Cross-cultural gaffes: language and culture
    11. The language police: prescriptivism and standardization
    12. So long, and thanks for all the fish.

  • Authors

    Stanley Dubinsky, University of South Carolina
    Stanley Dubinsky is Professor of Linguistics at the University of South Carolina. His primary areas of research are syntax, semantics and linguistic theory.

    Chris Holcomb, University of South Carolina
    Chris Holcomb is an Associate Professor of English at the University of South Carolina. His primary research interests include histories of rhetoric, humor, discourse analysis and prose style.

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