2016, Volume 13, Issue 1

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Mariusz Rutkowski
University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn
Olsztyn, Poland

Humorous Names in the Light of Incongruity Theory

Voprosy onomastiki, 2016, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp. 129–139 (in English)
DOI: 10.15826/vopr_onom.2016.13.1.007

Translated from Polish by Martyna Gibka
Received 25 June 2015

Abstract: The article addresses the humorous function of proper names in the light of incongruity theory. It aims at proving that, although names are often defined as pragmatically “transparent,” they may possess some humorous value due to semantic and pragmatic shifts resulting from the disturbance of ordinary patterns of proper names identification and interpretation. After a brief introduction, the author discusses different variants of incongruity theory as resented in the works by Victor Raskin and Thomas C. Veatch as well as their possible application to the study of humorous names. The second part of the paper provides an analysis of the humorous effects of proper names which includes anthroponyms, toponyms, trade names, football team names and names in literature. The first section of this part concentrates on names in which humour is unintentional and seems to be induced by the context, while the second section focuses on names which are intentionally humourous, i.e. supposed to amuse from the moment of their creation. The author argues that the incongruity theory can provide a useful framework for the study of the different mechanisms responsible of the semantic shifts which determine the variation of pragmatic values of proper names.

Key words: English language, theoretical onomastics, proper names, linguistic humour, humour theory, incongruity theory, pragmatics


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