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Riddle

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

Riddle is a term commonly used to describe humorous texts in a question-and-answer format that exploit conceptual or linguistic ambiguity. In folklore research, the term denotes a traditional genre of verbal art, while in literature it implies a literary trope. In linguistics and humor research, riddling is often considered a discourse type establishing a link between two scripts. It is assumed that riddling is an aspect of the oral and/or literary traditions of all cultures, and can be traced back to the ancient civilizations of India and Greece. Etymologically, the word riddle comes from the Old English raedels or raedelse, meaning “counsel, opinion, conjecture.” This entry defines riddle, presents a brief overview of traditional and contemporary riddle forms (with special attention to the devices ...

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