The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 10, No 4 (2022)

Jokes in Italian as a foreign language: comprehension, funniness, and sharing

Alejandra Platas-García,Verónica Reyes-Meza,J.-Martín Castro-Manzano


This paper analyses whether the comprehension of a joke in Italian as a foreign language is influenced by personal or task elements, whether comprehension influences the perception of funniness, and whether perceived funniness affects intention to share the jokes. A quantitative cross-sectional study was performed. Participants were all native Spanish speakers from Mexico who also read Italian as a foreign language. There were 61 participants, aged 19-64 years (Mage = 26.3; SD = 9.4), comprising 42 females and 19 males. Comprehension was measured using a multiple-choice test. Funniness was measured by a perception scale and sharing was measured by determining intention to share. The objectives were fourfold: to identify whether factors related to the test-taker (gender, occupation, and age) influenced comprehension; to investigate whether factors related to the test task (level of language, reading support, and prior knowledge) influenced comprehension; to explore if comprehension influenced the perception of funniness; and to determine whether funniness influenced the intention to share. To statistically evaluate these question, four generalized linear models were constructed (one corresponding to each objective). The results indicated that: (i) the test-taker’s occupation affects comprehension (p = 0.0499); (ii) the interaction of all of the test-task factors influences comprehension (p = 0.03087); (iii) comprehension affects funniness (p <0.001); and (iv) perceived funniness influences sharing (p <0.001). Finally, a discussion of these results is presented.


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