"Sounds Funny? – Humor Effects of Phonological and Prosodic Figures of Speech"

Lubrich, Oliver; Menninghaus, Winfried; Bohrn, Isabel; Altmann, Ulrike; Jacobs, Arthur (2014). "Sounds Funny? – Humor Effects of Phonological and Prosodic Figures of Speech". Psychology of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts, 8(1), pp. 71-76. American Psychological Association 10.1037/a0035309

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Whereas semantic, logical, and narrative features of verbal humor are well-researched, phonological and prosodic dimensions of verbal funniness are hardly explored. In a 2 × 2 design we varied rhyme and meter in humorous couplets. Rhyme and meter enhanced funniness ratings and supported faster processing. Rhyming couplets also elicited more intense and more positive affective responses, increased subjective comprehensibility and more accurate memory. The humor effect is attributed to special rhyme and meter features distinctive of humoristic poetry in several languages. Verses that employ these formal features make an artful use of typical poetic vices of amateurish poems written for birthday parties or other occasions. Their metrical patterning sounds “mechanical” rather than genuinely “poetic”; they also disregard rules for “good” rhymes. The processing of such verses is discussed in terms of a metacognitive integration of their poetically deviant features into an overall effect of processing ease. The study highlights the importance of nonsemantic rhetorical features in language processing.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Germanic Languages

UniBE Contributor:

Lubrich, Oliver


400 Language > 430 German & related languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 830 German & related literatures




American Psychological Association




Simone Gehr

Date Deposited:

18 Feb 2015 09:12

Last Modified:

22 May 2023 16:24

Publisher DOI:






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