Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Speech act ambiguity

April 20, 2014

From an esurance commercial on tv, entitled “Hank” (the key bit is boldfaced):

Hank: My daughter thinks I’m out of touch. So I asked her how I saved 15 percent on car insurance in just 15 minutes.

Neighbor: Huh. (shakes head)

Hank: (looks at phone) “IDK?” What does that mean?

Neighbor: “I don’t know.”

Hank: And I’m the one who’s out of touch. LOL.

The neighbor is answering Hank’s question, a request for information, asking about what “IDK” means. Hank understands this instead as an assertion, by the neighbor, that he doesn’t know what “IDK” means. (Hank then thinks the neighbor is out of touch.)  Both understandings involve assertions, but about different aspects of the conversational exchange.


April 1

April 1, 2014

(Not much language here.)

Once again, it’s April 1, April Fool’s Day. It’s hard enough to know what to believe on the net — there’s so much invention, satire, and the like — but it all gets booted up on this day (and its surrounding days). An old Peanuts, passed on by Billy Green:

Today brought a reminder (from Chris Ambidge) of one of the greatest April Fool’s jokes, the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest BBC broadcast of 1957. Panorama broadcast by Richard Dimbleby here, longer presentation (with complete text) here. It still makes me giggle.


Hu on base

March 30, 2014

Pointer from Dan Everett on Facebook to this image:

(#1) (more…)

Sign joke

March 21, 2014

From Nancy Frishberg, from a deaf friend on Facebook, this joke:

Two Deaf men and an interpreter are sentenced to death. On the day of their execution, they’re led to the electric chair room. The first Deaf guy is strapped into the chair, the executioner throws the switch, and…. nothing. The guy survived, so he’s pardoned and led off to stand in a corner while waiting for the other two. The second Deaf guy goes into the chair, is strapped in, and again, nothing. The executioner is a bit frustrated now, but the guy is pardoned and goes to stand with his friend. The interpreter is led to the chair and is strapped in. Before the executioner throws the switch, the two Deaf guys start talking together [that is to say, signing], like Deaf always do. The interpreter, being an interpreter, translates: “the chair is not plugged in. No wonder it was not working!”

I note that Nancy herself goes back and forth between deaf and Deaf (the latter involving cultural identification).

Joke time

February 8, 2014

A request went out on Facebook recently for favorite jokes. Lots of responses, most of them old acquaintances. But this one, from Michael Babinec, was new to me:

Queen Elizabeth is touring a new Scottish hospital and approaches the bedside of a patient. She asks him “What are you in hospital for?” and he says “Fair fa your honest sonsie face, great chieftain o’ the puddin’ race.”

Puzzled, she moves on to the next bed. “And what brings you to hospital?” Patient answers, “My love is like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June.”

Finally the Queen goes to a third patient, who says “Wee, sleekit, cowrin’, tim’rous beastie, oh what a panic’s in thy breastie.”

Completely lost, she turns to a doctor and asks “Is this the psychiatric ward?”

“No, it’s the Burns unit.”

Consider what it takes to “get” this joke.


December 22, 2013

Yesterday’s Zippy:

First, there’s the morphological form dehumorized, an entirely transparent use of English derivational morphology (‘without humor, with humor removed’), but novel. But then there’s the ironic note that suppressing all humor is itself humorous.

Santa penguins

December 19, 2013

Continuing a series of trivial Xmas items, here’s one from Kim Darnell that combines penguins and Xmas, in this posting with a video of penguins on parade in South Korea — in Santa suits.

Generational humor

December 11, 2013

Today’s Zits:

The kids’ assumption here is that adults’ sense of humor is lame.

Snarky spelling and punctuation

October 14, 2013

Three e-cards. The first is one in a long series illustrating the perils of going without punctuation — in this case, without commas that mark off syntactic constituents (in a way that receives expression in speech as well as on the page):




October 14, 2013

Today’s Zippy, on the origin of humor:


Bill Griffith is fond of playful morphology: here, humorology ‘the study of humor’ and humorologist, plus humorosity ‘humorousness’.



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