Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Vol 35, No 3 (2012)

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D. AARONS, JOKES AND THE LINGUISTIC MIND

Catriona Fraser

Abstract


Aarons has not written this book to make us laugh, nor to teach us what is funny. Rather she uses jokes, and why we find them funny, as a way to investigate a variety of linguistic ideas. Aarons maintains that jokes can be ‘a valuable source of evidence for our tacit knowledge of the mental representations’ (p.4) of a wide range of linguistic phenomena. In this sense, Aarons has based her work on Chomskyan notions of competence and performance. The performance of a successful joke relies on the linguistic competence of the listener. The listener must be aware of the tacit rules that govern language to ’get’ the joke; therefore, Aarons argues, an analysis of jokes can bring to light our tacit knowledge.

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