Play, obviously, can be intensely serious: witness any child or athlete. One specific form of linguistic play, black humour, may stem from the 'black bile' which allegedly breeds melancholy, but also creativity. Some linguisticians, and a moment's thought by virtually anybody, acknowledge that a principal mainspring of language is play: joking, messing about with words, coining them, trying it on with them, parodying others' uses and idiosyncrasies, mocking superiors, telling stories and so on. Jean-Pierre Brisset's humour would be more palpably deliberate if he possessed a sense of irony, for irony would act as a corrective to his lust for symmetries of meaning in all he surveyed. While Brisset was conversant with several tongues, and never lacked cheek, he did not bring them into contact. Some respondents are ready to see Brisset as a humourist, but only so as to belittle or domesticate him: a mere joker.