A Relevance Theoretic-based Approach to Verbal Humor in Joe Wong’s Talk Show

Shengxi Jin, Bin Wang


As a pragmatic theory of human communication, Relevance Theory proposed by Sperber & Wilson has some hypotheses which are suited to interpret how humorous effects are created in verbal communication. In this paper, RT is used to analyze how and why verbal humor in Joe Wong’s talk show is produced. We find that the mutual cognitive environments of addresser and addressees form the preconditions for the successful realization of verbal humor. RT views human communication as an ostensive-inferential process. In nature verbal humor communication is also an ostensive-inferential process. Skilled humorists always design delicately their joke points and try to make their utterances ostensive to audiences who show maximal relevance expectation to those humorists’ manifest stimulus. However, between the maximal relevance expectation and the optimal relevance exists a gap which causes audiences to search for the optimal relevance devised by humorists by paying more processing effort which can be rewarded to achieve humorous effects.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ijel.v2n3p44

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)   E-mail: ijel@ccsenet.org

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