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Do the kinds of political joke that get circulated in a polity depend on the structure - page 2 / 46





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Douglas Ayling

elaborate the methodology with examples and conclude by analysing the results and areas

for further development.

Christie Davies argues that jokes cannot be assumed to have a clear-cut political


Attitudes, motives, intentions and feelings will differ from one individual to another and even from one joke-telling session to another, for they are ephemeral qualities of particular situations. Any joke can be used in a very large number of different ways even without altering the text by changing the manner in which it is



there are undoubtedly

many jokes made under totalitarian and

post-totalitarian as well as authoritarian type regimes which do seem to be “about” the

political circumstances. Satire may be defined as the “use of ridicule, irony, sarcasm etc., in

speech or writing to expose and discourage vice or folly”4 and political satire flourishes

even in repressive political climates. It is said, as for example by Manuel Vicent, that the

non-democratic regime feeds humour:

El humor nace de la sugerencia, del peligro, de la segunda intención, de pisar el parque sagrado. Ciertamente, cuando la democracia permite que se la ataque de un modo directo está sentenciando a muerte al humorismo.5

3 4 5 Christie Davies, The Mirth of Nations (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002), p.6 The Concise Oxford Dictionary, seventh edition, ed. J.B. Sykes (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1982), p.930 Manuel Vicent, Triunfo (1982:18); cited here by Juana I. Marín-Arrese, ‘Humour as Ideological Struggle: The View from Cognitive Linguistics’, 8th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference: Cognitive Linguistics, Functionalism, Discourse Studies: Common Ground and New Directions, University of La Rioja, Spain, Friday 25th July 2003; available at <http://wwwling.arts.kuleuven.ac.be/iclc/Papers/JuanaMarinArrese.pdf>; date retrieved: 1st January 2006, p.10; The translation provided by Juana I. Marín-Arrese is as follows: “Humour is derived from allusions, from danger, from double meanings, from stepping on sacred ground. Truly, when democracy allows a direct attack on herself, she is sentencing humour to death”.

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