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Playing with Words
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Humour permeates our lives. People tell jokes, make puns, and engage in witty banter. There is written humour in headlines and captions, in ads, on signs, t-shirts, and bumper stickers, and in the form of graffiti. Nowadays humour is available on the web and circulated by e-mail. "Playing with Words" shows how every facet of language is exploited for humour. Where a word has multiple meanings or sounds like another, this is the basis for puns (A boiled egg is hard to beat). The word-building rules are used for clever compounds, smart blends and catchy phrases as in circulated by word of mouse. Ambiguities in the syntax afford further scope for humour (Miners refuse to work after death), and the sounds of words can be exploited in humorous verse. There is also humour to be found in slips of the tongue, malapropisms, and funny misspellings. "Playing with Words" also covers the subject matter of humour and the part it plays in society. It is an informed account in non-technical language, full of examples, a book to be read for information and for fun.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1. The nature of humour Principles of humour, Fun with words, Grammatical ambiguities, Transpositions, Mixing styles, Language in context, Dashing expectations, Clever connections, Logic, or lack thereof , Satire, parody, irony and sarcasm 2. What do people joke about? The cultural background, Beliefs and attitudes, Subject matter , Insults 3. Where humour is to be found Professional humour, Amateur humour 4. Laughs in the lexicon Compounds, Blends, Prefixes and suffixes, Euphemism, Colourful language, Names 5. Puns Basic puns, Puns across word boundaries, Puns involving phrases, Cross-language puns, Substituting a similar word 6. Grammatical ambiguities Which part of speech?, Scope, Participial clauses, Co-ordination, Missing subjects and objects, Pronouns and other problems of reference 7. Jokes Stories, Books, Book titles, Shortest books, Blonde jokes, Cannibal jokes, Dumb jokes, Definitions, Generalisations and exhortations, Graffiti, Headlines, How many x's does it take to change a light globe?, Knock Knock!, Oxymora and other self-contradictions Questions Signs, Stickers, Tom Swifties, Wellerisms, What do you get if you cross x with y?, What is the difference between x and y? 8. Wit 9. Language in context 10. Errors Slips of the tongue and mispronunciation, Accents and lisps, Malapropisms, Misinterpretations, Misspellings, Mispunctuation, Grammar as she is spoke, Logic or lack thereof 11. Rhymes Nursery rhymes, Children's verses, Adult verses, Limericks, Clerihews, Verse today 12. Beyond a joke

About the Author

Barry J. Blake retired from the position of Foundation Professor of Linguistics at La Trobe University, Melbourne, in 2003. He is the co-author of Language Typology (1981) and author of Australian Aboriginal Grammar (1987), Relational Grammar (1990), Case (1994, 2001) and several books on various Australian languages. Most of his past research has been in comparative and historical linguistics, but he is currently researching the functions of language that lie beyond the direct exchange of information, in particular humour and oblique, obscure and secret language.

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