Logical forms in wit

Daniel Winterstein, Sebastian Mhatre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

This paper presents a preliminary theory for the logical structure underlying a certain class of jokes and witty comments. We show that there is a range of jokes which can be understood as intentionally poor speech acts (where the intention is conveyed by a variety of means, including nonsense, parody and self-reference). Constructing such utterances typically requires intelligence and creativity. Hence jokes may have evolved (via mate-selection forces) as a way of demonstrating mental fitness. The goal of this work is both improving our understanding of humour (via formal theories of jokes), and techniques for the computer recognition and generation of jokes. It therefore focuses on structures that require relatively little world-knowledge. We identify several logical forms that give rise to jokes, and show how these forms correspond to violations of ‘the rules of good speech’ (e.g. Grice’s Maxims). As a result of this analysis, several algorithms are proposed for joke generation. These algorithms have yet to be implemented and tested. Hopefully though, they will extend computer-generation to a wider range of jokes
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationComputational Creativity Workshop 2005
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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