The Pragmatic Development of Humor

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Humor development is underpinned by children’s pragmatic abilities. This chapter will highlight the link between humor and pragmatics, demonstrating that understanding contexts and intentions is often key to interpreting humor. It will also discuss different theories of humor processing, including incongruity theories, behavioral theories, and pragmatic theories based on Grice’s maxims and Relevance Theory. This chapter will detail research about the development of humor appreciation and production from infancy through adolescence, including children’s understanding of the pragmatics involved in joking. Finally, research on the development of humor in children with autism and Asperger syndrome will be examined, highlighting that humor is more difficult for children with pragmatic difficulties.


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