Georgiy Blinnikov
Moscow State Linguistic University
Different approaches
Debatable question
“When we employ a word like “humor”,
one has the illusion of designating
something sharper than this kind of
complex web of relations among
laughter, faulty reasoning, taboos
and prohibitions, and unconscious
suppressor mechanisms.” (M.Minsky)
Censors form barriers in the mind that make
it difficult to think “forbidden” thoughts. But
jokes can elude censors to create unearned
release of psychic energy, which is
discharged in the form of laughter. Jokes are
short in order to fool simple-minded censors.
It works well for humourous aggression and
sexuality but not for nonsense humour.
A gentleman entered a pastry-cook's shop
and ordered a cake; but he soon brought it
back and asked for a glass of liqueur instead.
He drank it and began to leave without having
paid. The proprietor detained him. "You've
not paid for the liqueur." "But I gave you the
cake in exchange for it." "You didn't pay for
that either." "But I hadn't eaten it".
 from Freud (1905).
Perceptions are usually interpreted by the
mind in terms of previously acquired
description-structures called Frames
Frames represent stereotyped situations
Different kinds of info are attached to each
Each frame includes a variety of terminals to
which other frames are attached
Functional Style is a system of interrelated language
means serving a definite aim in communication. It is the
coordination of the language means and stylistic devices
which shapes the distinctive features of each style. Each
style, however, can be recognized by one or more leading
features which are especially conspicuous. For instance the
use of special terminology is a lexical characteristics of the
style of scientific prose, and one by which it can easily be
Special methods which make the author
closer to the reader: informal, colloquial
Emotional vocabulary
Inclusion of quotations from other texts into
the current text
Set expressions
Combination of incompatible linguistic tools
As a result we have a genre that can
incorporate various text types, often highly
contrasting with each other. This leads to
intertextuality which creates surprise,
humour or ironic effect
Luciano De Crescenzo
The History of Greek Philosophy. The
Ideas of ancient philosophic texts are
inserted in the context of the modern culture
via interim transformations. Every next
transformation gives to the reader a simpler
look on the complex metaphysic ideas.
This book is a good example of popular
science prose
This approach helps us to understand better
such phenomena as humour, surprise effects
and generation of new senses.
‘Io invece, che con la serieta’ ho sempre
avuto un rapporto difficile, non ho alcun
problema a raccontare tutto quello che ho
letto e, soprattutto, le cose che mi hanno piu’
On the text level frames can be embodied in
different text subtypes defined by their
stylistic and semantic peculiarities
We can pick out three kinds of text subtypes
1. Cognitive and linguistic
2. Behavioristic
3. Cultural
Diciamo pure che ci si
accontentava che il tempo
fosse buono, almeno il
giorno della partenza, e che
l'oracolo di Didima avesse
dato il suo nulla osta.
Stando così le cose, le carte
nautiche di Anassimandro
dovettero sembrare ai
mercanti dell'epoca il non
plus ultra del progresso,
tanto più che il filosofo le
aveva inzeppate di consigli
e di annotazioni sui popoli
che si sarebbero incontrati
sul cammino.
Honestly speaking a
traveler in those times
contented himself with
good weather and a
Dydym oracle’s sanction.
Taking it into
consideration traders
should have considered
Anaximander’s maps a
non plus ultra of the
progress, all the more
the philosopher
crammed them with tips
and notes on peoples
that could be met during
the voyage.
Per colpa di questa teoria della
metempsicosi, Pitagora e’ stato
ampiamente sfottuto sia dai
contemporanei che dai piu’
illustri drammaturghi:
Senofane, in un suo scritto, ce
lo mostra nell’atto di
trattenere per un braccio un
uomo che bastona un cane.
‘Ti prego’, dice Pitagora ‘non
picchiare il tuo cane giacche’
in esso, temo si trovi l’anima
di un mio amico.’
‘E come fai a dirlo?’ chiese
‘Ne ho riconosciuto la voce.’
This story with transmigration
of souls made a lot of
Pithagorus’s contemporaries
and famous writers mocked at
him a lot: Xenophan in one of
his works depicts him as
stopping a man from clubbing
a dog.
“Please, said Pithagorus, don’t
kick this dog as in it I’m afraid
a soul of my friend lives”
“How do you know?” asked the
“I recognized his voice.”
Su Anassimandro,
purtroppo, non ci sono
aneddoti divertenti come
su Talete, a eccezione di
un episodio che lo vede
nelle vesti di cantante. Si
racconta che un giorno
alcuni bambini, avendolo
sentito cantare in coro, lo
abbiano preso in giro per
come stonasse, al che
sembra che il filosofo si
sia rivolto ai compagni
dicendo: «Signori, per
cortesia: cerchiamo di
andare a tempo, ca si no
'epeccerille ce sfottono».
Unfortunately there are no
such funny stories about
Anaximander as about
Thales except one incident
in which he is shown as a
singer. Once a bunch of
boys heard him singing in
the choir and started
laughing at the way he
was singing out of tune.
Then Anaximander
addressed his friends the
following words:
“Gentlemen, let’s not lose
the rhythm, you see how
these dudes are mocking
at us”
Anassimandro era
convinto che Acqua
Aria Terra e Fuoco
fossero solo entità
limitate e che a
comandare su loro
ci dovesse essere un
Super-elemento, un
invisibile allo stato
All in all
Anaximander was
convinced that
Water, Air, Earth
and Fire were only
limited entities and
there must have
been a superelement to rule
them all, a kind of
a Godfather,
invisible in his
natural state.
…E’ bene chiarire che la
giustizia sociale per i
progressisti del V secolo
era cosa alquanto diversa
da quella perseguita oggi
dai nostri sindacati: una
buona giustizia sociale la
si otteneva solo quando
ciascun lavoratore veniva
ricompensato secondo I
propri meriti…molti soldi
ai piu’ bravi e nemmeno
una lira a quelli che non
avevano voglia di lavorare.
It’s worth mentioning that
social justice for the
scientists of the V century
was very different from
the one propogated by our
trade unions: a good
justice for them was only
when each worker was
paid according to his
virtues… a lot of money
for the best and none for
those who don’t want to
work at all.
I numeri infine, secondo I
pitagorici, posseggono
qualita’ terapeutiche: I
quadrati magici, ad esempio,
venivano incisi su lastrine
d’argento e preservavano
dalla peste, dal colera e dalle
malattie veneree. Ora io
propongo, anche se mi rendo
conto che non e’ tanto facile,
in un aeroporto, esibire un
quadrato magico come
documento sostitutivo della
vaccinazione obbligatoria…
Therefore numbers
according to Pithagorus,
have therapeutic qualities:
magical squares, for
instance, cut out in silver
plates protected from
plague, cholera and
venereal diseases. So in
spite of being aware that it
won’t be easy I suggest
that magical squares
should be used as
substitution of vaccination
documents in airports…
“Humor, like games, serves and exploits many different needs and
Humour functions in Popular
Science text
Psychological triad
1. Creating metaphors favouring
2. Relaxation of mental tension
3.Increasing motivation
1. More profound analysis of humour effects
on cognitive processes
2. Study of humour strength and quality in
different texts
Georgiy Blinnikov
Moscow State Linguistic University
you for
your attention
and comments