Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Syntactic ambiguity as a device in British humour

María Teresa Sánchez Roura



The present study of ambiguity at the syntactic level in the English language focuses on its resourceful applications in the creation of jokes. Such ambiguity is therefore regarded as something to be exploited in language rather than avoided. One important conclusion will be that British humour should not be regarded as "strange" by speakers of other languages, who can only access to it by means of poor, or should we say, difficult translations, since not all types of ambiguity are translatable across languages. The study is divided into three sections, dealing firstly with bracketing of constituents and labelling of categories and functions; and secondly, focusing on transformational relationships, whereby two underlying structures are related to one surface structure. The illustrations are real jokes collected from a variety of popular joke books.


Ambigüedad sintáctica; Humor; Lengua inglesa; Parodia; Chistes


Copyright (c) 1995 María Teresa Sánchez Roura

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