Incongruity Humor in Language and Beyond: From Bergson to Digitally Enhanced Worlds

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    Humour research is often about verbal humour. Language allows us to play with words and with its syntactic, semantic and pragmatic aspects. It provides us with building blocks that can be composed in unusual ways, introducing ambiguities, confusion, inappropriate language use, and incongruities. This allows the design of humour, whether it is word play, verbal jokes, or humorous remarks triggered by conversational interaction. Design and analysis of verbal humor has become part of computational humor studies. Language is not the only tool that can be used to design and construct humor. In our daily life we often encounter situations that make us laugh and that we consider to be humorous. We may even help to provide conditions that lead or hopefully lead to humorous situations. Being able to control a physical environment and the way its inhabitants can interact with the environment has now become possible due to advances in sensor and actuator technology. Increasingly we see sensors embedded in our environments that monitor and interpret our behaviour. They include cameras and microphones, position, proximity, and wearable physiological sensors, they gather knowledge about our activities, interpret them in real-time, and anticipate future activities and behavior. Based on such perceptions and interpretations actuators make changes to the environment, its appearance and its interaction and display facilities, including augmented and virtual reality display and interaction possibilities. Until now, computational humor research has been concerned with modelling verbal humor. But many observations on more general forms of humour can have a computational implementation as well. Or, at least, humour creation by human inhabitants of such environments can be facilitated by humor intelligence embedded in these environments. In particular this intelligence knows about incongruity humor theories. This knowledge allows the environment to introduce incongruities and it allows inhabitants of the environment to use such incongruities to create and exploit humorous situations while interacting with the environment and other inhabitants. Unlike the single-modal incongruities that can appear in language, in the physical world we can have cross-modal incongruities, where our senses reach a conclusion, based on partly incomplete and partly conflicting information, that later has to be revised based on newly received information. We have been tricked. Or, in the words of Douglas Hofstadter: “Pulling the wool over the human perceptual system.‿. Various categories of incongruities have been introduced. Attention need to be given to incongruities that follow from the introduction of new technology as has been visualized in Chaplin’s Modern Times or Tati’s Mon Oncle and PlayTime. A more recent view has been taken by Stone, who identified our social media and internet behavior as an attempt to be a ‘life node’ in our networks, displaying scanning behavior and doing multitasking, and therefore always being in a state of ‘continuous partial attention’, leading to mental mismatches and unintended juxtapositions of events, leading to incongruous and humorous situations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings Fourteenth International Symposium on Social Communication
    PublisherCentro de Lingüística Aplicada
    Number of pages6
    ISBN (Print)978-959-7174-30-1
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2015
    Event14th International Symposium on Social Communication 2015 - Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
    Duration: 19 Jan 201523 Jan 2015
    Conference number: 14


    Conference14th International Symposium on Social Communication 2015
    CitySantiago de Cuba


    • EWI-25087
    • Smart Environments
    • Bergson
    • IR-94096
    • Multi-modal interaction
    • Incongruity
    • Mechanical Humor
    • METIS-312449
    • Computational Humor


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