Original Research

Die grapteks met verwysing na die interessantheidsbeginsel

P. S. de Bruyn
Literator | Vol 15, No 2 | a660 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v15i2.660 | © 1994 P. S. de Bruyn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 1994 | Published: 02 May 1994

About the author(s)

P. S. de Bruyn, Potchefstroomse Universiteit vir CHO, South Africa

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Jokes are special kinds of texts: they do not communicate something about the real, existing world like some other kinds of texts do, because they are worlds in themselves. These units of discourse consist of two components: a build-up and a punch line, the latter being the source of humour, mainly because it possesses elements of surprise. Although mostly fictitious, jokes do make use of an element of truth, or at least some common knowledge. They can also be seen as speech acts, acts of humour with the perlocutionary effect to amuse in mind. When De Beaugrande and Dressier's characteristics of a successful text are applied, jokes can be seen to fit the description. As in the case of other literary genres, jokes can be described as fiction because they are also special expressions with well-defined conventions. These special kinds of texts are spontaneously recognised for what they are. When those elements distinguishing jokes as such are removed, the effects jokes have are cancelled. These removed elements are thus proved to be essentials. The element of surprise, caused by the condensation of several meanings in the punch line, seems to be of vital importance in this respect. Jokes are intended to amuse. Jokes are consciously told with this purpose in mind and they are noticed because of that. It will be argued, using appropriate examples, that these special effects are achieved by means of the principle of interest. The exploitation of pragmatic means is used to attain this.


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