Półrocznik Językoznawczy Tertium/ Tertium Linguistic Journal

Vol 4, No 1 (2019)

Does Conceptual Integration Theory Possess the Cognitive Toolkit to Explain the Comic? Building Bridges Between Diverse Fields of Linguistics in Respect of the English Humour

Joanna Jabłońska-Hood


In this paper, I would like to display the workings of the mechanism of conceptual integration theory (CIT for short), aka blending, as envisaged by Fauconnier and Turner (1998 & 2002). I wish to demonstrate that blending is a potential candidate for a humour theory. On the basis of a few chosen examples of English humour, specifically a joke, a cartoon and a scene from a sitcom, I hope to prove that CIT possesses a toolkit for an in-detailed analysis of any humour type. Further, I wish to argue that some examples of comedy may require the cognitive procedure of frame-shifting alongside CIT, in order to account for the funniness in a systematic way. Frame-shifting is a term proposed by Seana Coulson to be used in joke analysis (Coulson 2017). I would like to point to the fact that it may boost CIT in humour explanation. Yet it needs to be stressed that frame-shifting on its own cannot explain humour. It ought to be regarded as a parameter to be included within CIT. Further, it is especially important to verify whether or not frame-shifting is always obligatory when studying comedy. Certainly, it is valid for shorter pieces of discourse, but its presence may not be required for all the other types of humour. The paper aims to refer to this issue in conclusive remarks, following the analysis of the comic. Additionally, I would like to demonstrate that blending can function as a higher-order theoretical paradigm which explicates humour origin and which interlinks with other well-established processes involved in any comic study, e.g. incongruity perception and/or resolution. I put forward that CIT is capable of complementing incongruity resolution theories in its power to explain the source of the comic. What is more, I would like to postulate that in its power to throw light on the humour source and origin, CIT may be assigned the status of a cognitive tool with which to explicate humour.



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