Incongruity-resolution theory and humor in women jokes’ punchlines in Italian Spanish English and Mandarin Chinese

  • 郎 心怡

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The study aims to investigate and compare women jokes in four different languages: Italian Spanish English and Mandarin Chinese The main purpose is to compare how the punchline of women jokes is constructed and what are the feminine characteristics they portray in the languages in question The study first collected the data from several websites and only women jokes that show female characteristics were collected The theoretical backgrounds are based on Incongruity-Resolution Theory (Shultz 1972) the Isotopy Disjunction Model (Attardo 1994) and the Blending theory (Fauconnier and Turner 2002) Secondly a self-administrated questionnaire was distributed to 31 Italian and Taiwanese male participants respectively in order to observe whether male participants see women as women jokes portray them We attempt to answer the following research questions: (1) What are the elements that construct Italian English Spanish and Mandarin Chinese women jokes’ punchline? What are the differences shown in the punchlines? (2) How are women illustrated in women jokes? (3) Do men see women as women jokes illustrate them? What does this tendency entail about gender jokes? The results of the study include: (a) The humor shown in women jokes’ punchline in the four languages can be categorized into 13 categories where in Italian English and Chinese the most frequent one is ANAPHORA (CONTENT); and in Spanish ANSWER (b) As far as referential jokes and verbal jokes are concerned our results are in accordance with Attardo’s (1994) results that referential jokes out number verbal jokes with a majority of lexical verbal jokes (c) Western women jokes mainly express the punch line by playing with words or by applying synonyms; whereas Mandarin Chinese women jokes’ funniness are mainly represented by a ‘whole idea’ (d) The feminine characteristics that are revealed in women jokes can be categorized into seven categories: UNPLEASANT INCAPABLE TALKATIVE MONEY DEPENDENT MANIPULATOR HOUSEWIVES and OTHER where UNPLEASANT takes most of the ground (5) The male participants reported that they do not agree with the characteristics of women being stupid annoying betrayers as women jokes portray them; however they are prone to agree that women are talkative and bad drivers Humorous statements illustrated differently in divergent languages and cultures are hard for precise comprehension Therefore the different constructions of punchlines help Italian English Spanish and Mandarin Chinese language learners comprehend better the humor expressed in the jokes
Date of Award2014 Feb 6
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorShelley Ching-yu Hsieh(Depner) (Supervisor)

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