chapter 7 Punning, word play and other linguistic special effects

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The kinds of variations that have been examined in the previous chapters have demonstrated that creativity, in order to be communicative, must be solidly grounded in knowledge that is shared between the creator of the variation and his or her intended audience. Yet no single facet of knowledge is sufficient in itself. The phraseological combinations that words enter into are essential for conventional meanings to be expressed, but these interact with knowledge of a word’s other combination possibilities, and hence, its other meanings. Lexical patterns, image schemata, context of use and salience all interact in word play, sometimes with spectacular results. Building on the findings of the preceding chapters, the most creative forms of variation are finally discussed here, and they are pegged to the outstanding categories of associative connotation: paronymy, homophony and symbolism. This chapter introduces the concept of “optimal innovation” (Giora 2003), incorporating it into the analysis of linguistic special effects including humour, punning, contextualising, and even the creative variation of established exploitations.


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