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Dialect Humor

  • By: Catherine Evans Davies
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Dialect humor refers to a way of creating humor by using language in a way that highlights non-standardized aspects of ways of speaking that are associated with particular groups of people. Selected features from all aspects of the linguistic system, ranging from accent to word choice to grammar to discourse patterns, can be assembled in an imitation of a speaker of a particular dialect. This linguistic stereotype can then be used to index the group of people being represented and to construct humor around other non-linguistic stereotypes of the group. The standardization of English beginning in the 18th century, along with the rise of literacy, has inevitably led to the evaluation of nonstandardized language use as less worthy. Yet, at the same time, diversification ...

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