Posted at 11.02.2018
Humour takes on a decisive role in our daily life which is also a topic of interest of several disciplines such as linguistics, popular culture, psychology, mass marketing communications, marketing plus some others. The talk of what humour is can be followed back again to Aristotle and Plato. The complexity of the phenomenon has been an intrigue for many studies. "Humor is a general human being activity found among all cultures and throughout most of recorded history (Alden, Hoyer, and Lee 1993)". Humour is widely used in advertising as a kind of communication to be able to persuade customers to acquire products and services since it is generally believed among marketers that "making us chuckle will encourage positive thoughts and feelings toward their products and brands and put us in a receptive mood because of their sales announcements" (Beard 2008: 2). Cook said that "advertising is often a helpful and useful mirror if you want to reflect on just how we react socially (Make 1992:5)".
However, the utilization of humour in advertising remains very questionable as its presence in advertising can cause both positive and negative effects. Response to a humorous advertisement can vary as individuals have different sense of humour. Therefore humour is very individual and subjective but at the same time it is general. Matching to Raskin "responding to humor is part of human being behavior, potential, or competence, other areas of which comprise such important public and emotional manifestations of Homo sapiens as dialect, morality, logic, trust, etc. In the same way all those, humor may be referred to as partially natural and partly acquired (Raskin 1985: 2)".
Throughout its background there have been many endeavors to establish humour but none of the explanations accounts for all its possible types thus root its complexity. Humour can be broadly identified as a kind of communication when a created stimulus may work to provide pleasure for an audience (Gulas and Weinberger 2006: 95). Attardo expresses that "linguists, psychologists, and anthropologists have taken laughter to be an all-encompassing category, covering any event or thing that elicits laughter, amuses, or is felt to be funny (Attardo 1994:4)". It is vital to tell apart between humour and laughter as humour has been often recognized with laughter which seems to be incorrect as humour a mental sensation while laughter is rather a neurophysiological reaction to it.
1. 2 Aim and scope
The objective of this thesis is to contribute to further knowledge of one of the numerous strategies utilized by advertisers, particularly humour. However, this thesis does not attempt to give a theoretical construction for humour in spite of the fact that the following chapters make regular reference to the educational and scientific literature. The overall purpose of the study isn't just to provide a much better understanding of humour on the net advertising and present an information into different linguistic ideas of humour as well as its different kinds but also to describe different linguistic features which advertisers use to include humour and demonstrate this through empirical material compiled from a variety of sources. Under this aspect humour will be divided into two organizations: pun-based humour and non-pun humour. We package with pun humour when the marketer uses elements of language to produce new meanings that bring about humour. My supposition is that is the type of humour which most often occurs in print advertising. In this regard such linguistic devices will be described as polysemy, homonymy, idiomatic expressions, neologisms and nonce formations, and antonyms. However this would be just mere id of a certain type of humour in advertising and its enabling factors. Which means extent of the study is to look how different kinds of humour range across different products and services publicized in magazines. Because it is generally believed that the best advertising suited to the use of humour are radio and Tv set, plenty of studies exploring the use of humour and its own success were conducted mainly in this field. Therefore this thesis is focused on the adverts presented in print media and does not feature advertisings that appear on the tv screen, radio, internet, and movie theater. There has always been a great argument over whether funny print advertising work and of course you don't have to say that they certainly. We just have to understand that humour print includes a more personal marriage. Graham Warsop, the only real creative director to acquire judged the best four international advertising honours, once said: "Print humour gets someone to smile inwardly somewhat than outwardly (Aitchison 2004:???)". This state governments again that not everybody will have fun at the same things.
It should be observed that headline and body backup of an advert will never be the crucial method of attraction since most adverts are funny only because of the interplay of content material and image. The picture often functions as an eye-catcher in the advertising whereas its interpretation differs from the meaning of the text. Make meals considers pictures to be always a part of advertising discourse as they are being used to convey a central idea in the advertising (Make meals 2003:6). Thus, both pictures and headlines will be observed as equivalent and you will be considered alongside one another as their interplay contributes to the overall meaning of the text. Advertising in its turn will be seen in the thesis as a communication process.
1. 3 Outline
As shown in the table of material, this thesis involves five chapters. Chapter You are the introduction in which the purpose and the research questions are explained. It starts by giving a qualifications of the subject of the thesis, and then progresses to information of materials and methods and ends by bringing out the advertising terminology. Chapter Two is focused on a more detailed delimitation of the concept of humour, with an overview of the major humour theories which are necessary for bringing out the operational classification of humour that'll be found in this study. Section Three reveals humour types. It talks about numerous existing taxonomies of humour types and offers a fresh classification which subdivides humour types into two main organizations: pun structured humour vs. non pun humour. The structure of this section is centered on this taxonomy with the corresponding analysis of the advertising. Chapter Four is a study area of the thesis which analyzes the occurrence of the determined humour types across various products and services and presents the accumulated empirical data as well as the results and results. Section Five functions as a summing-up in which the research questions are responded to and the conclusions are drawn. A bibliography and appendix will conclude the thesis.
1. 4 Materials and Method
As stated above this thesis is focused on the advertising presented on the net media and does not feature advertisements that show up on the tv screen, radio, internet, and theatre. The selected material consists of a complete of sixty two funny adverts chosen from the range of around two hundred English-speaking magazines printed between the years 2006 and 2010. Popular lifestyle newspapers have been mainly used because they are directed toward an over-all audience and have a higher content of advertisements which advertise an array of products and service. I used so extensive range of journals because one and the same advertising have been within numerous journals as well as in various issues of one and the same publication. Because of this thesis I've mainly utilized such glossy magazines as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, In Touch, Chat, OK, In Style, Home, The Economist and some others. No gender issues will be placed onward in this thesis as well as no differentiation will be made between humour in British and US mags as it would give this thesis a whole new aspect.
As an initial step in the choice procedure, I searched for any advertising that displayed funny context. The selection was relatively wide as this resulted in around 100 ads which I considered to be humorous. It ought to be noted that when browsing through numerous magazines it's very difficult to determine if the ad is funny or not as certain subjectivity is actually involved in to the process of decision making. That's the reason the subjectivity is inescapable. Even though such technique of selection is often utilized by many researches, I tried to avoid making decisions without consideration of opposing thoughts and different things of view. For this function one interview was conducted the aim of which was to exclude prevailed subjectivity in my own selective procedure and explore two basic questions: which advertising will be still regarded as humorous according to the interviewees and how they'll determine the kind of humour in case the ad shows to be humorous. A remark should be produced under this aspect that anyway it will be to a certain level the so called unilateral decision as in the long run it is me who determined which advertising would be included and which would be left out. Additionally it is worth of talking about that the interview is not the main purpose of this research and that's the reason its existence in the thesis will be tied to the short explanation of its treatment and results.
Coming back again to the interview process, it ought to be known that the interview was conducted in a small group consisted of twelve participants. The space of the interview was two hours. Around a hundred fifty different advertisements were provided to the participants chosen on the assumption that of them were humorous. In order to ensure that the results wouldn't normally be biased, the members were not educated about this truth as well they didn't know what the study was supposed to be about. The individuals were asked to truly have a check out each advertisement and also to determine if they contemplate it to be interesting or boring, creative or not creative and funny or non-humorous. The two supplement questions besides the question about the occurrence or lack of humour in the advertisement were created only with the goal of aiming to avoid some potential disadvantages which are immediately linked with an interview. This is actually the so called participant reflexivity, meaning the person being interviewed (interviewee) tells the interviewer only what s/he would like to listen to. Then, since many people often expect from a funny ad to make sure they are burst into laughing and such an attitude would bias the results of the interview I made a decision to ask them to rate (in the event they think the ad is funny) how funny it was on a five-point-scale. Rating an ad as 5 designed that they considered it to be very funny, 3 indicated that it was a modest agent of humorousness whereas 1 suggested that it was a very poor example of a humorous advertisement and should be probably excluded from the list. The results drawn after the evaluation of twelve questionnaires were remarkably consistent. The arrangement was particularly high for the id of the given advertising to be funny or non-humorous. For rating can be involved the results weren't similar, better to say they were very inconsistent and that shows again that humour is often being judged singularly and subjectively.
After that the ads were sorted out to determine which advertising would be fruitful for a qualitative research. The advertisements that have been considered by almost all of the individuals as not humorous whatsoever were excluded from the list of prospects for future research.
1. 5 Advertising terminology
No need to state that advertising hat its own terminology. I am not heading to list all the terms you will get in neuro-scientific advertising. Thus, the terminology will be limited to a few conditions which are frequently found in this thesis. I am going to follow Cook's explanations which he presents in his "Discourse of Advertising" (2003).
According to him Headline Phrase(s) bought at the top of ad.
Caption Phrases (s) within close closeness to a graphic.
Body copy A bit of smaller wording, often including the main
(or duplicate) information.
CHAPTER 2. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND
2. 1 Introduction
As was mentioned in the intro, humour is in no way homogenous. Since there is no general acceptance in classifying humour, there is absolutely no ideal theory of humour which can cover all its factors and accept all its peculiarities. A lot of the existing humour ideas are combined and it appears to be impossible to incorporate such an enormous happening as humour into an individual built in theory.
As a starting point it can be asserted that humour is induced by particular mechanisms (Spotts, 1987). Spotts state governments these mechanisms can be grouped into three main categories: the cognitive theory, superiority theory, and the pain relief theory (Spotts et al. 1997:20). The section that practices is focused on some of the primary threads of the theories of humour that contain emerged although it is important to notice that not absolutely all humour theories ever suggested will be presented in it and it will not be attemptedto make a comprehensive survey of all these ideas. Only those theories will be mentioned which play a substantial role for working out an operational classification of humour because of this thesis.
2. 2 Incongruity and Incongruity-Resolution Theory
Incongruity can be called in other words inconsistency or contradiction. The incongruity theory dates back to Francis Hutcheson's Reflections Upon Laughter published in 1750. Down the road it was revisited and displayed by Kant, Schopenhauer and Kierkegaard. Incongruity theories are considered to be cognitive in their aspect. This is actually the group of ideas which dominates humour research. Relating to McGhee (1979) humour is as reaction to incongruity and he identified incongruity as "the partnership between the different parts of an thing, event, idea, interpersonal expectation and so forth. When the layout for the constituent element of an event is incompatible with the normal or expected structure, the event is perceived as incongruous. " The prevailing theories of incongruity have a notable difference predicated on the question whether incongruity is a required condition for humour to be produced and when yes, whether it is sufficient or probably there are other conditions had a need to cause humour. Based on this fact two academic institutions of considered incongruity theories appeared: the so called one-stage incongruity theories and two-stage incongruity-resolution ideas. One-stage incongruity theorists like many representatives of some mental theories suggest that we often have a good laugh when we see or notice something unforeseen. In terms of the theory it can be said that "we cognitively process (or think about) the message in a single stage that includes three parts - interruption (what's that?), perceptual compare (there's something incongruous and surprising here!), and playful dilemma (what's it mean) (Speck, 1987:7)".
Other theorists like Jerry Suls and Thomas Schultz, the opponents of the two-stage incongruity image resolution theory, postulate that it's not sufficient for a message to be funny alone and they insist on the overlapping of meanings of the incongruous parts and on the existence of another stage, particularly the resolution of the incongruity. "Incongruity becomes stronger only when it follows a resolution process and is realized and accepted by its audience (Gulas and Weinberger 2006: 2326)".
Attardo considered incongruity ideas to be cognitive in their character and were often associated with linguistic theories of humour.
To summarize the ideas, it can be added that incongruity theory is based on the thought of a comparison between two overlapping scripts whereas incongruity-resolution theory requires the presence of two stages: incongruity as derivation from expectation and incongruity understood in quality which in its convert results in leisure. Incongruity sometimes appears by many studies as a humour type. I favor to see it as a problem needed to produce humour.
2. 3 Superiority Theory
The second branch of the primary humour theories is presented by ideas of superiority. These ideas have ended up by tons of names such as disparagement, criticism, hostility, aggression, malice, degradation, and derision. This group of humour theories is dependant on the ideas of Aristotle, Quintillian, Plato, and later Thomas Hobbes (seventeenth hundred years) and it is directly connected with the public function of humour which cannot be said about the incongruity ideas which consider humour as a person sensation. Superiority theory is a theory of mockery. In terms of the theory humour is pointed against something or somebody thus making us to believe something or an individual is more advanced than somebody else. In other words "we chuckle from feelings of superiority over other folks, from suddaine Glory arising from suddaine Conception of some Eminency in our selves, by Comparison with the Infirmityes of others, or with this owne formerly" (Critcheley, 2002: 3). It's advocated that individuals joke about things that make them feel doubtful and/or uncomfortable as a way of releasing feelings of tensions (Gulas and Weinberger 2006: 28).
2. 4 Release Theories
Release ideas as well as superiority ideas have numerous labels such as arousal theory, liberty theory, and tension-release theory. This band of theories describes how people act in response emotionally to humour. It was put forward by Herbert Spencer in the nineteenth century but it was better discussed and thus it is best known from Freud's research of humorous utterances given in his publication Jokes and Their Regards to the Unconscious (1905). "Freud suggested that jokes provide us with a release from the continuous need to repress our natural intense and sexual needs, and are thus experienced as enjoyable. Like dreams, jokes come from the unconscious, bur are first changed into less explicit varieties, in that way providing a socially acceptable way of breaking taboos" (Ventola, Guijarro 2009: 79).
The release theory has somewhat to do with the physiological function of humour. It is based on the notion of homeostasis, meaning humans control their internal environment on the physiological level in order to ensure certain stability in response to stress, tension, and anxiety.
Morreall (1983) talks about the natural function of laughter and insists on the opportunity of coexistence of comfort theory with other ideas mentioned above: incongruity ("relief through resolution") and superiority ("relief through triumph".
2. 5 Linguistic Ideas of Humour
Since all the prevailing theories of humour are based on the notion of incongruity there is no theory about which it could be definitely said that it is a strictly linguistic one. "Linguistic" in this case is quite a conditional name. Nevertheless, the first step into this route was submit by Raskin, who advised a script-based semantic theory developed for verbal humour.
Viktor Raskin's Script-Based Semantic Theory of Humour was presented in his publication Semantic Mechanisms of Humor (1985) that was a great contribution to all of the humour theories ever proposed and a first attempt to explain humour from a linguistic perspective. Raskin place his goal as pursuing: "Ideally, a linguistic theory of humour should determine and formulate and the required and sufficient linguistic conditions for the written text to be funny (Raskin, 1985: 47)". The script-based semantic theory of humour was designed as a natural theory which takes in profile all the three theories discussed above. Matching to Raskin's theory, verbal or written communication is known as to be always a joke if the written text is fully compatible with two different but at the same time opposite scripts. Script in this case presents a huge chunk of semantic information. That is the primary hypothesis of his theory: "A words can be characterized as a single-joke-carrying text if both of the conditions are satisfied. i) The written text is compatible, fully or in part, with two different scripts
ii) Both scripts with which the text works with are complete opposite in a special sense (). Both scripts with that your text works with are thought to overlap completely or partly on this wording (Raskin 1985: 99)". Raskin introduces the idea of the cause or a punch-line, which switches the listener in one script to some other thus creating the joke (Raskin, 1985: 36).
Raskin's theory can be interpreted within the terms of incongruity-quality college of humour.
Although his theory was mainly developed for verbal humour it proves to be effective for many types of funny advertising, both for verbal and for visual.
It should be noted that there surely is also a revisited version of the SSTH called "The General Theory of Verbal Humour" (GTVH). This theory was due to cooperation of Raskin and Attardo. The primary goal of the GTVH was to broaden the scope of Raskin's SSTH to be able to apply it to any humorous text. Attardo reviews about it as pursuing: "Whereas the SSTH was a semantic theory of laughter, the GTVH is a linguistic theory "at large" - that is, it includes the areas of linguistics as well, including, especially, textual linguistics, the idea of narrativity, and pragmatics (Attardo 1994: 222)". Attardo postulates that quality will not exclude the presence of incongruity; they coexist and come with each other so that "any humorous words will contain an component of incongruity and an factor of image resolution (Attardo 1994: 144)".
2. 5. 2 Operational Definition
An operational explanation of humour must encompass all the above listed theories as all of them are very important to the analysis of the advertising in this thesis. Under this point I would completely trust Raskin when he said that " the incongruity-based ideas make a assertion about the stimulus; the superiority theories characterize the relationships or attitudes between your speaker and the hearer; and the release/relief theories touch upon the thoughts and psychology of the hearer only. " (Raskin 1985: 40)
The operational explanation of a humorous advertisement will be exercised in conditions of Raskin's SSTH. The question occurs why no I really do not follow the GTVH. A couple of known reasons for that. First, the GTVH followed the key hypothesis of the SSTH. Second, the broadenings launched, aren't of much importance for a present-day analysis. The 3rd reason is that the GTVH is still under development rather than all the problematic issues have been fixed yet.
So the advert will be looked at to be funny if it fulfills the following conditions:
the advertisements has two overlapping scripts which cause the incongruity
these two scripts are in the contrary relation to each other.
The first condition exclusively would not be enough for the advertisement to be humorous as the overlapping of two scripts may have a non-funny text because of this as well.
CHAPTER 3. HUMOUR TYPES
3. 1 Introduction
Since there is no universal classification of humour, there a wide range of ways to classify it and there is absolutely no universally accepted classification of humour types. Taxonomies of humour types are very different and not homogeneous. There have been many makes an attempt to classify humour matching to different criteria. Kelly and Solomon (1975), for example, grouped humour according to techniques found in order to produce humorous effect and provided seven types like a pun, an understatement, a tale, something ludicrous, satire, irony and funny purpose whereas Goldstein and McGhee discussed three types: nonsense, erotic and ambitious.
An summary of some main classifications is provided in Stand 2, which demonstrates the fact that the typologies of humour types are diverse and blended as well as terminology used for different types of humour: "" (Raskin)
The classification of humour types presented in this thesis is based on the taxonomy provided by Catanescu and Tom (2001) which in its turn used Reick's practitioner-oriented classification system as a basis. Catanescu and Tom used five types from this classification and added two new types which led to seven following humour types: contrast, personification, exaggeration, pun, sarcasm, silliness, and shock. As the analysis they conducted had not been only specialized in homour in print advertising, not all humour types provided in their taxonomy could be included into classification for this thesis. Thus, such category as shock had to be overlooked despite several examples of using this system in a printing advertisement which could be found during the analysis of determined material. The reason for that was the fact that the functional definition didn't use this humour type as some other mechanisms were involved in such advertisements which were beyond the current analysis. To avoid the mixture of devices, types and techniques about which Raskin spoke, all these types were split into two main categories, namely pun humour and non-pun humour all of them was subdivided into several sub categories. So polysemy, homonymy, nonce-formations and idiomatic expressions dropped under the category of pun humour and such types as comparability, personification, exaggeration, sarcasm and silliness under the group of non-pun humour correspondently.
The goals of this chapter are: a) to expose some definitions of an pun to style the talk, b) to provide an perception into some types of pun taxonomies, c) to build up pun taxonomy for the current analysis and describe the nature of the linguistic phenomena involved with puns illustrating it by making use of gathered materials, d) to offer a taxonomy of non-pun humour considering the occurrence of each enter the advertisements accumulated from the magazines.
3. 2 "Oh! That's a pun and I didn't indicate it"
Before talking about pun-based humour it appears to be of great importance to know what will be recognized under pun. Puns are reported to be the most common basis for humour. "The management of humorous language is basically a subject of devising exchanges - the copy from set to create, from size to size, from layer to layer, until the happy conclusion of a double eyesight is achieved. At the heart of this process of continual and multiple transference, an important process aping the shiftiness of thought itself, is the evidently frivolous device of pun; word-play is the lure, the spinning toy that pulls up the lurking and fishy meaning. We take punning for a tawdry and facetious thing, one of the less deep types of humour, but this is the prejudice of our own time; a pun may be profoundly serious, or billed with pathos (Nash 1985: 137)". As stated in the intro, my supposition is the fact pun is the type of humour which most often occurs in print advertising despite quite contrary details of view when puns were criticized because of their frustrating ambiguity and then for representing a straightforward and less superior form of humour. That is why many advertisers prefer never to include puns into adverts believing they have a minimal intellectual status. Nash defends the pun against such accusations offering his own list of puns and insisting on the fact that puns are normal in the language of journalism (Nash 1985: 137). Sherzer provides another discussion in protection of puns in advertising stating that puns are higly befitting advertising as they deliver two meanings for the price of one (Sherzer 1985). A similar opinion shares Redfern: "Advertising space is costly. Market is vital, and puns are highly cost-effective (two meanings for the price tag on one expression or key phrase), and in reality much more of a labour-saving device than lots of the products they seek to market. () Because the fundamental message of most advertising is known to everyone beforehand, there is a dependence on diversification. Wordplay, using its distortions, bifurcations and re-creations, presents variety and refreshment into saturation. Puns, the devious ones, are a way round those rather stuffy rules of the advertising watchdogs: adverts should be legal, good and true. A menu for mass-producted boredom. The words of adverts are double-talk, necessarily. If adverts told only the verifiable real truth, they would be pedantic and monotonous. And they also have to approximate; they need to say one thing and suggest another. Obliqueness is all. So why not make a virtue out of necessity, and a silk bag out of the sow's hearing? (Redfern 1982: 130-131)".
Redfern asserts that puns are perfect for advertising as "they are usually sent with the requisite ambivalent combination of false apology and only too real aggression (Redfern 1982:275). " Explanations of pun as well as explanations of humour fluctuate greatly from researcher to researcher. Freud considered puns to be the cheapest form getting in touch with them "cheapest" stating they can be created with the least effort. Walter Redfern (1984) devoted a whole booklet to pun where he said that "pun can make an individual. () It could ruin lazy goals; subvert the type of terms and thought (Redfern 1984: ??)".
Sherzer described it as "a kind of speech play when a word or expression unexpectedly and concurrently combines two unrelated meanings (Sherzer 1978: 336)". This the idea (the occurrence of two senses) on which all linguistic and non-linguistic analyses concur. Following the rules of the incongruity-resolution theory a sensation of pun can be explained as two meanings incongruously mixed in a single and the same sentence. These two meanings cause ambiguity due to which a conflict arises between the two senses which is subsequently settled by the shocking punchline (Ross 1998:8).
Following the functional explanation of a humorous advert, a pun-based funny ad must fulfill the pursuing conditions: two meanings need to be semantically incompatible, i. e. compared. This is the so called deliberate ambiguity in a pun which creates the incongruity. Then it must be followed by resolution leading to funny interpretation.
3. 3 Pun taxonomy
There are numerous taxonomies of puns witch essentially differ from one another.
Attardo criticized these taxonomies and tries to clarify the sensation of pun through its taxonomy. He tried out to build the "taxonomy of the taxonomies" and distinguished four major types of pun classifications, particularly: taxonomies by linguistic sensation, by linguistic structure, by phonemic distance, and eclectic (Attardo 1994: 112). Tanaka recognized four categories of puns in advertising: "nonsense" puns, contextual puns, puns with sexual innuendo, and puns with two communicated meanings (Tanaka 1994: 64-80). I will maintain taxonomy based on linguistic phenomena as it's the most relevant one because of this thesis. "Taxonomies predicated on linguistic phenomena try to list all linguistic facts that are involved in puns (Attardo 1994: 113)". The pun taxonomy provided in this work won't cover all linguistic phenomena on which puns can be structured as lots of these would not work within the casings of the functional definition of a funny advertisement presented earlier.
3. 4 Pun-based humour
This subsection will deal with humour types based on puns and will look meticulously at linguistic procedures involved in them.
3. 4. 1 Homonymy
There are numerous meanings of homonymy. In this thesis we will understand under this term words that are identical in audio and spelling, or, at least, on one of these aspects, different in their meaning. Puns are often based on homonyms. Homonyms can be subdivided into three communities: words which will be the same in sound and spelling (the so called complete homonyms or homonyms proper), then words which are the same in sound but different in spelling (the so called homophones) and words which are the same in spelling but different in sound (the so called homographs).