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In the early 1980s, a new joke cycle appeared in the USA, and has continued to fl ourish ever since. This is a lawyer joke cycle. Lawyer jokes have been published in book form, and have also been displayed on various American websites. Why is it the lawyer, and not the representative of any other profession or occupation, who is permanently made fun of in so many American jokes? What are the dominant stereotypical traits of a lawyer? What negative features is he hated for? Does the lawyer’s stereotype in American lawyer jokes contain any truth? These and many other questions could be asked in regard to American lawyer jokes. The present study focuses on stereotypical traits of lawyers. All the jokes quoted and discussed in the study can be found with references to their Internet sources. The vast majority of jokes were collected from hundreds of websites in spring 2009.

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In this study we analyze the results of a sociolinguistic survey conducted in Hungary in 2005–2006. The main purpose of this study was to employ the methods of correlational and quantitative sociolinguistics to assess how age, sex and education influence appreciation of humor in anti-proverbs (also known as alterations, parodies, transformations, variations, wisecracks). Each participant in the survey received a list consisting of 41 Hungarian anti-proverbs. The task of respondents was to read the antiproverbs and indicate their rate of funniness on a scale of 0 to 10.This paper focuses on three major questions. First, how do sex, age and education influence the overall scores of evaluation of funniness? The second goal was to consider differences in humor evaluation by sex, age and education with respect to some thematic categories treated in the anti-proverbs, including sexuality, obscenity, men, women, and modern technology. Our third aim was to establish the lists of the anti-proverbs which got the highest and lowest scores of funniness from the subjects as a group, as well as from respondents representing different subgroups: those who belonged to different age cohorts, genders, and those with different levels of education. We began our research with seven hypotheses generated by previous humor studies; the results of our study confirmed five of the hypotheses and disconfirmed one; the remaining hypothesis was neither confirmed nor disconfirmed.

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In this study we analyze the results of a sociolinguistic survey conducted in Hungary in 2004–2005, with the goal of exploring some popular views of the proverb and anti-proverb and their functions in contemporary Hungarian society. Using data collected from 298 subjects, we focus on three major questions. First, our aim was to establish the lists of the proverbs most frequently used nowadays, as well as the ones most popular for variation. Our second goal was to discover our subjects’ thoughts about the use of proverbs and anti-proverbs, as well as about their views of the people who use them. And, last but not least, our third task was to compare what people say about their own usage of proverbs and anti-proverbs to what they think about the ways in which other people use these expressions.The complex analysis of the results of the survey can illumine interesting aspects; for example, the correlation between the subject’s gender and age and the use of proverbs and anti-proverbs. We also have to deal with the contradictions of folk concepts concerning this topic: there is a significant contrast between the ways in which subjects describe their own habits and the ways in which they talk about other people’s use of proverbs and anti-proverbs.

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Proverbs have never been considered sacrosanct; on the contrary, they have frequently been used as satirical, ironic or humorous comments on a given situation. Wolfgang Mieder has coined the term “Antisprichwort” (anti-proverb) for such deliberate proverb innovations (also known as alterations, mutations, parodies, transformations, variations, wisecracks, fractured proverbs). The focus of this study is on different mechanisms of variation in Anglo-American, German, French, Russian and Hungarian anti-proverbs. The mechanisms discussed and exemplified in the study include replacing a single word, substituting two or more words, changing the second part of the proverb, adding new words, adding literal interpretations, repeating identical or phonetically similar words, mixing two or more proverbs, word-order reversal, rhyme, changing the first part of the proverb, and omission of words.

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On the basis of French, Hungarian, English, German and Russian corpora of anti-proverbs (deliberate proverb innovations, also known as alterations, mutations, parodies, transformations, variations, wisecracks, and fractured proverbs), we examine word play based on polysemy, homonymy, and homophony. After a survey of the proverbs most frequently used for these types of alteration, this study investigates anti-proverbs linked to the theme of sexuality. Finally, we explore the use of proper nouns in proverb transformations based on polysemy, homonymy, and homophony.

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Acta Ethnographica Hungarica
Authors:
Hrisztalina Hrisztova-Gotthardt
,
Anna Litovkina
,
Péter Barta
, and
Katalin Vargha

Paronomasia is a popular form of wordplay often used to transform proverbs into antiproverbs (deliberate proverb innovations, also known as alterations, mutations, parodies, transformations, variations, wisecracks, and fractured proverbs) by replacing certain phonemes with similar ones, or by adding or omitting phonemes. The present paper describes and exemplifies this sort of pun by using selected German, Hungarian, English, French and Russian language data. The first part of the paper focuses on the linguistic aspects of paronomasia; the second part stresses semantic characteristics. This study also examines the role of wordplay on the theme of sexuality, and then comments on the use of proper nouns in proverb transformations. We conclude that all five of the languages in our research corpus use similar, if not identical, approaches to forge a “twisted wisdom” out of a simple proverb.

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