Półrocznik Językoznawczy Tertium/ Tertium Linguistic Journal

Vol 1, No 1 & 2 (2016)

“Girding up the Loins”: A Cognitive Sematic Analysis of Humorous Expressions

Zoltan Kövecses


A large number of humorous linguistic expressions in English (and also in other languages) are characterized by such cognitive processes as metonymy, metaphor, and conceptual integration, or blending. However, these figurative devices are neither sufficient nor necessary for humorous effects. Following other researchers, I suggest that in order to account for humorous expressions we need the notion of conceptual incongruity, or incompatibility inside or between frames of knowledge. In the paper I will take stock of some of the commonly occurring types of incongruity, or incompatibility, in my data of humorous expressions. I will account for the existence of a large number of metonymy-, metaphor-, and blending-based humorous expressions by proposing that these figurative devices create or facilitate the creation of incongruities. The analyses of a number of humorous expressions will make it possible to suggest a rough and sketchy cognitive linguistic account of the humorous effect of these expressions.



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