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No Laughing Matter: A study of the use of comedy in public service announcements
Halmstad University.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This essay is a study which is intended to explore how public service announcements in broadcast media use humour as a method of conveying their core messages in a manner which is both memorable and persuasive; to consider why humour is chosen as a strategy; and to identify the similarities and differences in the use of humour in PSAs and commercial broadcast advertising. Six video commercials were analysed in total: three PSAs and three advertisements. The analysis identified semantic and stylistic features including metaphors, puns, idioms, vagueness, polysemes, homonyms, homographs and homophones, as well as visual metaphors. It continued on to investigate how PSAs contextualise their messages, applying Grice's co-operative principle, as well as the principles of relevance, as proposed by Sperber and Wilson (1986).

The results revealed that the PSAs examined appear to show the application of a range of linguistic devices that contribute to making their content humorous. Ambiguity, mostly generated by verbal and visual metaphors, vagueness and polysemy, appears to be the most common strategy for stimulating interest and engaging the viewer. It was observed that viewers must possess the ability to recover meaning through non-linguistic signifiers, such as body language, and through contextual cues. It was also established that similar linguistic devices tend to be used in the production of PSAs and advertisements to create humorous content, but to a different extent.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , 44 p.
Keyword [en]
Public service announcements, Advertisements, Advertising, Semantics, Pragmatics, Ambiguity, The United Kingdom, The United States, Australia
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-34176OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-34176DiVA: diva2:1110479
Subject / course
English
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-19 Created: 2017-06-15 Last updated: 2017-06-19Bibliographically approved

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fulltext(835 kB)28 downloads
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Halmstad University
General Language Studies and Linguistics

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf