1st Edition

The Language of Jokes in the Digital Age
Viral Humour

ISBN 9780415835190
Published December 5, 2017 by Routledge
178 Pages

USD $46.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

In this accessible book, Delia Chiaro provides a fresh overview of the language of jokes in a globalized and digitalized world. The book shows how, while on the one hand the lingua-cultural nuts and bolts of jokes have remained unchanged over time, on the other, the time-space compression brought about by modern technology has generated new settings and new ways of joking and playing with language. The Language of Jokes in the Digital Age covers a wide range of settings from social networks, e-mails and memes, to more traditional fields of film and TV (especially sitcoms and game shows) and advertising. Chiaro’s consideration of the increasingly virtual context of jokes delights with both up-to-date examples and frequent reference to the most central theories of comedy.

This lively book will be essential reading for any student or researcher working in the area of language and humour and will be of interest to those in language and media and sociolinguistics.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 The Language of jokes several years on

Jokes and humorous discourse


The Joke Form

The General Theory of Verbal Humor

Form and content

Verbal ambiguity

Joke Structure

Joke Targets

The stupid underdog

Canny jokes



Suspending disbelief



Chapter 2 The Language of Jokes Goes Global

Humour in unscripted TV entertainment

Presenting with humour

The teasing scold

Behaving badly for a laugh

Translating humour for the movies and television

Non-verbal humour

Visual humour

Acoustic humour

Verbal humour

Purely linguistic orally conveyed verbal humour

Visually conveyed verbal humour

Culture specific verbal humour

Verbal/visual Humour

Verbal humour

Translation as a Humorous Device


Chapter 3 The Language of Jokes and Gender

Male, Female Humour and Laughter

Targeting Gender

Sexist humour

Specific sexist jokes



The Dirty Joke

Rape Jokes

Feminist Jokes

Women and Self-deprecatory Humour

Gender Bending


Chapter 4 The Language of Jokes On-Line

Conversational Humour on-line

Signalling laughter on-line


Ping-pong-punning Below the Line

Below the Line Communities


When the verbal meets the visual - In and around Internet memes

Real life moments

Manipulated content

Memes as Ethnic jokes

Exclusive to the Internet

Criss-cross humour

Meme Transference


View More



Delia Chiaro is currently Professor of English Language and Translation at the University of Bologna’s Department of Interpreting and Translation and President of the International Society of Humor Studies. She has published widely on a number of intercultural issues regarding humour and has given numerous keynote lectures at international conferences around the world. A member of the Editorial Boards of the Mouton journal Humor: International Journal of Humor Research and the John Benjamins journal The Israeli Journal of Humor Research: An International Journal, Chiaro is also Associate Editor of the "Topics in Humor" book series for John Benjamins.


"On the whole, The Language of Jokes in the Digital Age is a very comprehensive and readable source invaluable for scholars and students interested in language and humour as well as for those working in the areas of language, (social) media and sociolinguistics."

- Mariza Georgalou, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens & Hellenic Open University, European Journal of Humour Research