2. The Technique of Jokes

1. What is it that makes a comment (such as 'famillioniarely') into a joke? Freud proposes that there are two possible answers: (1) that the thought expressed in the sentence possesses in itself the character of being a joke (a conceptual joke) or (2) the joke is in the expression which the thought has been given in the sentence (a verbal joke).

Freud begins with the linguistic forms used to represent a thought, and which of these are consequently comical (i.e. verbal jokes). Freud describes the joke-technique in Heyman's example as (a) 'condensation accompanied by the formation of a substitute - which is a composite word'. Having identified the 'technique' though, Freud acknowledges that this does not explain any further in what way this gives a feeling of pleasure and makes us laugh, he delays treatment of that problem until later chapters.

Freud then identifies a similar joke-technique, namely, (b) 'condensation accompanied by slight modification'. Freud argued that the differences between these two techniques are not significant, and that we can describe the formation of a composite word as a modification of the basic word by the second element.

2. From these first techniques Freud proposes the importance of brevity in jokes. Freud found that the joke depends entirely on its verbal expression established from the process of condensation. So, Freud concluded that this process of condensation must be quite important and worth examining especially given its parallels with his ideas of the 'dream- work' and the role of condensation within it.

3. Freud now addresses the issue of whether condensation with substitute formation is essential and universal to every joke. He immediately cites an example - a sermon in Wallensteins Lager "... ... ... ... ... .Wallenstein,... ... ... ... allen ein Stein... ... ... ... ". There is no omission here, nor an abbreviation, so condensation with substitute formation is not universal in-joke production. This leads Freud to identify several examples with this same technique - in each of them a name is used twice, once as a whole and again divided up into its separate syllables, which, when they are thus separated give another sense

This technique - 'multiple use of the same material', can be sub-divided according to the re-use of the material:

(a) as a whole and in parts
(b) in a different order
(c) with slight modification
(d) of the same words full and empty.

Freud then looks at examples of multiple use which can be, again, described separately - those of 'double meaning' or 'play upon words' - which can be sub-divided further:

1. (a) Double meaning of a name and of a thing - e.g. "Discharge thyself of our company, Pistol!" (Shakespeare, Henry IV i)

(b) Double meaning arising from the literal and metaphorical meanings of a word - e.g. said to a dramatist (son of a doctor) "I'm not surprised that you've become a great writer. After all your father held a mirror up to his contemporaries" (the mirror being his stethoscope, and the mirror representing that used by Shakespeare in Hamlet III.ii).

(c) Double meaning proper or play upon words - e.g. "C'est le premier vol de l'aigle" Napoleon III - where 'vol' means both 'flight' and 'theft'.

(d) 'Double entendre' - e.g. "some people think that the husband has earned a lot and so has been able to lay by a bit [sich etwas zurückgelegt]; others again think that the wife has lain back a bit [sich etwas zurückgelegt] and so has been able to earn a lot."

(e) Double meaning with an allusion - where the two meanings are not equally obvious - e.g. "she could abschlagen nothing except her own water" ('abschlagen' translates as 'to refuse', or, vulgarly, 'to urinate').

2. Freud argues that it ought to be possible to bring all these techniques under one heading, since multiple use of the same material, is only a special case of condensation (a play on words being nothing other

  By PanEris using Melati.

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