Publication details [#64222]

Gibbs, Raymond W. Jr., Patrawat Samermit and Christopher R. Karzmark. 2018. Humor, irony, and the body. Review of Cognitive Linguistics 16 (1) : 72–96.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Irony has traditionally been studied as a purely pragmatic phenomenon, one in which a speaker says one thing and means another, often by commenting on the contrast between expectation and reality. However, as cognitive linguists have discerned for many other aspects of language, much of the ways that people speak and understand one another is motivated by people’s pervasive bodily experiences. Ironic humor provides another compelling phenomenon in which to understand the embodied foundation of both linguistic meaning and multimodal expression, particularly in terms of rough-and-tumble play. Many forms of humor arise from different benign violations of the body in play fighting. This study describes cognitive linguistic and psychological evidence on the importance of bodily experience, and benign violations of the body, in linguistic expressions referring to teasing and humor. Variations of rough-and-tumble play help explain some of the instabilities in the ways ironic humor unfolds in interpersonal interactions.