chapter  14
Relevance-Theoretic Treatments of Humor
ByFrancisco Yus
Pages 15

Relevance theory (RT) is a cognitive pragmatics theory of communication by Sperber & Wilson that aims to identify "underlying mechanisms, rooted in human psychology, which explain how humans communicate with one another". The theory also addresses the predictions of relevance that speakers make when choosing an utterance or text for transferring their thoughts to other people within interactions. RT is also interested in the mental representations that underlie communication and in the mental processes that are at work in communication. This chapter describes some relevance-theoretic claims that are important to understand how this theory can be applied to the interpretation and effects of humorous texts. It applies mainly to utterances with an initial part that leads to a first accessible interpretation. The proposal is to incorporate the identification of a humorous intention as a second-order, feelingor emotion-related metarepresentation that is added to the main dissociative attitude, and to differentiate the dissociation-related metarepresentation from the humor-related one.