By “laughing word” we mean a lexeme of everyday English language that is used in such a way that it provokes puzzlement and wonder at first, but then once its unexpected meaning hits home, triggers a smile of recognition, a chuckle, or even laughter in the reader. Joyce, an Irishman, wanted to master English, to master the very language of the English oppressors and ‘masters’ who had conquered his country and erased its original Gaelic tongue, and also to make English his own personal idiom, and recognizable as such. And to make his language memorable, he adopted different strategies. One of these was to distort the signifier itself, which he did in unusual ways. In order to make his language memorable, he adopted different strategies. One of these was to distort the signifier itself, which he did in unusual ways. He would take, not just unusual words, but common, everyday English words, which he would then transform into strange, unexpected signs pointing to displaced objects. In this edssay we argue that even the smallest item of Joyce’s prose, the word, has more often than not a laugh or a smile inscribed into it and that once one begins to see this aspect of his writing, then reading Joyce can be great fun.

The Laughing Word of James Joyce

BOLLETTIERI, ROSA MARIA;WHITSITT, SAMUEL PORTER
2010

Abstract

By “laughing word” we mean a lexeme of everyday English language that is used in such a way that it provokes puzzlement and wonder at first, but then once its unexpected meaning hits home, triggers a smile of recognition, a chuckle, or even laughter in the reader. Joyce, an Irishman, wanted to master English, to master the very language of the English oppressors and ‘masters’ who had conquered his country and erased its original Gaelic tongue, and also to make English his own personal idiom, and recognizable as such. And to make his language memorable, he adopted different strategies. One of these was to distort the signifier itself, which he did in unusual ways. In order to make his language memorable, he adopted different strategies. One of these was to distort the signifier itself, which he did in unusual ways. He would take, not just unusual words, but common, everyday English words, which he would then transform into strange, unexpected signs pointing to displaced objects. In this edssay we argue that even the smallest item of Joyce’s prose, the word, has more often than not a laugh or a smile inscribed into it and that once one begins to see this aspect of his writing, then reading Joyce can be great fun.
Translation, Humour, and Literature
158
170
R. M. Bollettieri Bosinelli; S. P. Whitsitt
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/96047
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