Publication details [#178]

Veale, Tony, Kurt Feyaerts and Geert Brône. 2006. The cognitive mechanisms of adversarial humor. Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 19 (3) : 305–339. 35 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language


This paper provides an in-depth cognitive analysis of ‘trumping’, a specific humor strategy. Trumping is a multi-agent language game based on the subversion of the linguistic forms used by the interlocutor. In particular, the authors illustrate how speakers reflect and distort the linguistic-conceptual construal of each others' utterances. The authors put forward a multi-dimensional semantic-pragmatic account. Adversarial agents undermine the opponent's utterances in order to turn the tables in a game of humor. A speaker trumps their adversary if they demonstrating a ‘hyper-understanding’ of the meaning of an opponent's utterance. The conceptual devices undergoing subversion include metaphor, metonymy and salience. The authors argue that cognitive linguistic treatment of humor constitutes a valuable methodological addition to humor research.