Algorithms of comic texts construction

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Abstract


The paper deals with semiotic characteristics of comic texts construction. It is aimed at analyzing semantic, pragmatic and syntactic properties of jokes so as to find out models of comic texts comprehension. The material for the analysis comprises ca. 1000 jokes of various kinds including funny short narratives (in Russian these are named ‘anecdotes’), humorous aphorisms and demotivators as a new genre of internet communication. Semantic and pragmatic mechanisms of comic texts differ, though methodologically they make inseparable unity, according to A. Wierzbicka. Semantically, comic texts represent caricature pictures of the reality concerning objects, time and space dimension of events and positions of agents. They may be described in terms of denotative and significative incongruences. Pragmatically, such mechanisms form evaluative and argumentative divergence between usual and given states of affairs which manifest themselves as collisions of interpretation scripts. Syntactically, comic texts may be interpreted in terms of their narrative, or descriptive or argumentative correlation with corresponding non-comic texts. Two models of such texts interpretation are discussed. The first one is dictal in its essence and is based on disagreement between the planes of reality as shown in the text, whereas the second one is modal and it reflects an incongruity between reality and the view of it. The dictal model includes such techniques as repetition, juxtaposition and reversing of agents positions, the modal model can be traced in jocular periphrasis, precedent text parodies, and comic allusions. The dictal model is oriented towards semantic disagreement between various aspects of reality, the modal model concerns mostly pragmatic and syntactic aspects of a comic world view. Modern communicative practice as represented in the Internet network communities is focused on self-representation and various jokes are inherent part of this objective. The jokes are often based on incongruity between theme and rheme in the message content and disagreement between image and text in its form.

About the authors

Vladimir I Karasik

Pushkin Russian Language Institute; Tianjin Foreign Studies University

Email: vkarasik@yandex.ru
117 MaChang Road, HeXi District, TianJin, People’s Republic of China, 300204
Dr., Professor, Dept. of General and Russian Linguistics, Pushkin Russian Language Institute / Professor, Tianjin Foreign Studies University

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