Providing a framework for classifying types of ambiguity
Keywords:ambiguity, comprehension, definition, humour
This paper addresses inconsistencies in findings for children’s humour development by examining the ways in which five different ambiguity types (lexical, phonological, morphological, syntactic and idiomatic) have been interpreted and applied in earlier studies on humour comprehension. It identifies discrepancies in linguistic phenomena perceived to constitute each ambiguity type and highlights how differences have contributed to contrasting claims being made about ambiguity types comprehended by young children during the final humour stage. Definitions are subsequently provided for each ambiguity type examined. Definitions accommodate the fact that verbal humour is intrinsically embedded with the form in which it is delivered (i.e. the language in which it is communicated) and are based upon linguistic phenomena through which ambiguity types are manifested. Application of these definitions should now allow the researcher to be sure of linguistic phenomena being tested at any given time and facilitate comparison and contextualisation of findings across future studies
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