To pun or not to pun?
A contrastive study of paronomastic jokes in English and German
This paper presents a contrastive analysis of puns in English and German based on a bilingual corpus of 2,400 jokes from published collections. The main assumption is that punning in the two languages differs in quantity and quality because of contrasts in morphosyntax, lexis and phonology. More precisely, given that the creation of most types of paronomastic jokes is considered to be facilitated in English, the English data set is expected to show a higher number and a greater variation of puns. However, a few manifestations of punning are assumed to occur particularly often in the German data. Seven hypotheses related to these predictions are tested. The most significant finding is that puns in the English set clearly outnumber puns in the German set.
Keywords: puns, paronomastic jokes, English/German
Published online: 04 April 2011