Orthographic puns: The case of Japanese kyoka

  • Hiroko Takanashi
  • Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, January 2007, De Gruyter
  • DOI: 10.1515/humor.2007.012

What is it about?

This paper proposes a cognitive model for processing humor in puns written in kanji (logographs) and kana (phonographs) in kyoka. Kyoka is a genre of playful Japanese poetry, and it characteristically employs puns for language play and humor. This study shows how kyoka poets manipulate the use of kanji and kana orthography to trick their readers in different ways, directing readers to different processing routes of kanji and kana puns. Kanji puns offer direct access to one particular meaning, and the discovery of another hidden meaning is a surprise. Kana puns, on the other hand, produce semantic ambiguity, and the discovery of the two meanings results from an appreciation of their incompatibility. This study adds a visual aspect to the sound aspect of puns, and demonstrates ways in which cultural resources affect their processing.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Hiroko Takanashi