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This paper argues in favour of a fruitful assembling of traditional dualities observed in humour (disparagement vs. incongruity, positive vs. critical aspects). After reviewing misogelastic (i.e. denigrating) and carnivalesque (i.e. enthusiastic) positions, we attempt to classify and understand both the historical alternatives and their contemporary counterparts, particularly dealing with the social vs. the cognitive divide. Here it is championed that social and cognitive dimensions must be approached in an entangled way. In our view, reversal theory approaches have captured the essential complication in humour, the playful mode present in interaction, plus the asymmetry implied in interpretation.

The Israeli Journal of Humour Research, 6 (1), August 2017.


Literatura de disbarats (2016)

disbaratsCom va dir Lichtenberg, el nonsense és una cosa molt trista, si un professor si dediqués, caldria concedir-li la jubilació. Fa més de trenta anys que m’hi dedico, a recollir materials i a interessar-me pels disbarats, però la jubilació no m’ha arribat encara. Disbarat, disparate, nonsense (aquest darrer, un mot d’estricta filiació anglesa) és la part rigorosament verbal de l’absurd, la construcció d’expressions que o bé no tenen o bé bloquegen expressament el significat. Depenent del context en què l’interpretem, l’absurd genera humor. Hi ha tota una tradició europea, començant per Dante, que crea i recrea disbarats de tota mena, amb intencions diverses. El príncep de tots és Erasme, amb el seu Encomi de la follia.
Conferència impartida en la Jornada Delícies d’Alícia, Universitat de Barcelona, 14 de gener de 2016.


Flipping situations and ending plots. An approach to coherence in humour (2006)

flippingRecent linguistic research on humour and conversation has been successfully achieved on pragmatic and sociolinguistic grounds. This contribution tries to follow this (bi)methodological trail, deepening on the study of conversation and its implications. I will call contextual contamination the procedure of linking together different arguments and scripts in spontaneous talk. The second step would be to undertake Mary Douglas analysis on situational coherence in humour. Then I will approach some issues about mock attack theory and the collapse of the pressuposed script in practical situations. My last point will approach the narrative constituent of comical performance. Absurd narratives (non comical) also confront the notional order embedded in natural stories, and I would try to grasp how this contrast works. My conclusions will draw together the narrative and the conversational dimensions of humour.


Joking with doctors (2000)

ecografiaThe complete presentation I have prepared for the panel on Humor and Irony in Conversation organized by N. Norrick on occasion of the 7th International Pragmatics Conference held in Budapest on July, 2000. I approached the topic of health and humour using a set of interviews with the main actors, trying to discover how humor and conversation critically merge in order to tackle frail and difficult themes.


Swift’s ironies about conversation: a critique (1996)

swiftJonathan Swift left to publication in 1738 A Compleat Collection of Genteel and Ingenious Conversation, according to the most polite Mode and Method, now used at Court, and in the best companies of England, in several Dialogues. The booklet contained a long introduction displaying Swift’s opinions about standard conversational practices. The second part was made up of three imitations of courteous dialogues which, in fact, turned out to be a biting satire of English social modes of talk of that time. The characters and the style of the book (filled with clichés and proverbs rescued by the author for the occasion) still make it interesting enough for any sociolinguistic approach to English language.