Pun and (Un)Intentional Humor

Author: Nawal

Keywords: Measure for Measure, pun, humor, intentional humor, unintentional humor, Gricean maxims, implicature


Several contributions, in this century, revolve around the role which pragmatic plays in the perception and understanding of a humorous language. Pragmatically, linguists are interested in the way humor is communicated in conversations of our daily life and in the function of humorous communication like; irony, pun, teasing and joking. Only, recently, humor has gained its importance pragmatically when some authors and linguists took a few preliminary steps back in the eighties, by looking respectively at the unsaid concerning humor, the construction of comic witticism from a Grecian perspective, and the sociopragmatics of language use in jokes. The present study is intended to show how a selected literary extract can be subjected to a linguistic and a pragmatic analysis by applying the implicature theory of Grice (1975) and the incongruity theory of Kant (1790) by depending on pun as a basic mechanism to create humorous situations consciously and unconsciously. The researchers of the present study aim to investigate how pun can sometimes create intentional and unintentional humor and to differentiate between the creation of intentional humor, produced by smart characters, and unintentional humor, produced by naïve characters.  Despite the fact that this study is a qualitative in nature, some tables are provided for ease of reference and to reach into a deeper, better and more comprehensible analysis.