Terminology as a source of misunderstanding: English and Russian humour term systems





How to Cite

Shcheglova, E. A., & Shilikhina, K. M. (2021). Terminology as a source of misunderstanding: English and Russian humour term systems. The European Journal of Humour Research, 9(1), 7–28. https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2021.9.1.Shilikhina


The field of humour studies has developed its own system of terms for designating its research objects. However, disputes about the boundaries of the concepts and their relationship within the terminological system are not uncommon. Along with the English terminological inventory there exist terminologies developed within other languages. The paper discusses key terms of humour studies in the Russian and English languages. Seven Russian terms – ‘комическое’, ‘юмор’, ‘ирония’, ‘шутка’, ‘анекдот’, ‘насмешка,’ and ‘подшучивание’ and six English terms – ‘the comic’, ‘humour’, ‘irony’, ‘(canned) joke’, ‘mocking,’ and ‘banter’ are described. By looking at dictionary entries, definitions suggested by researchers and contexts in which the words are used as terms, the authors describe their general and terminological meanings and analyse differences of the two terminologies. Though the Russian and English terms originate from the same Greek and Latin words, there are significant differences in the traditions of their usage as scholarly terms. These differences cause difficulties which arise when it comes to translation of Russian texts into English and vice versa.



Arkhipova, A. S. & Melnichenko, M. A. (2011). Anekdoty o Staline. Teksty, kommentarii, issledovanija [Canned Jokes about Stalin. Texts, comments, research]. Moscow: OGI.

Attardo S. (ed.) (2014). Encyclopedia of Humor Studies. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

Berger, P. L. (2014). Redeeming Laughter: The Comic Dimension of Human Experience. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter.

Borev, Y. (1970). Komicheskoe [The Comic]. Moscow: Iskusstvo.

Collins English Dictionary (2020). Retrieved 27 March 2020 from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/browse/english/

Colston H. L. & Gibbs R. W. (eds.) (2007). Irony in Language and Thought. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Davies, C. (2007). ‘Humour and Protest: Jokes under Communism’. International Review of Social History 52, pp. 291-305.

Davies, C. (2011). Jokes and Targets. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Drame, A. (2015). ‘The social and organizational context of terminology work’, in Kockaert, H. J. & Steurs, F. (eds.), Handbook of terminology, Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins, pp. 505-520.

Duskaeva, L. R. (2018a). Media linguistics in terms and concepts: reference book. Moscow: Flinta.

Duskaeva, L. R. (2018b). ‘The dynamic and static aspects of speech organization in business media texts’. Studies About Languages 2, pp. 65-76.

Dynel, M. (2009). ‘Beyond a Joke: Types of Conversational Humour’. Language and Linguistic Compass 3 (5), pp. 1284-1299.

Efremova T. F. (2000). Novyj slovar’ russkogo jazyka. Tolkovo-slovoobrazovatelnyj [The New Russian Explanatory and Word-Formative Dictionary]. Moscow: Russkij jazyk.

Ermakova, Olga P. (2005). Ironija i ee rol’ v zhizni jazyka [Irony and its role in the life of language]. Kaluga: KGPU Press.

Estetika. Entsiklopedicheskij slovar [Aesthetics. Encyclopedic dictionary] (2000-2020). Retrieved 27 March 2020 from https://aesthetics_ru.academic.ru.

Filosofskij slovar [Dictionary of Philosophy] (2010). Retrieved 5 April 2020 from https://my-dict.ru/dic/filosofskiy-slovar/.

Firth, J. (1968 [1957]). ‘A synopsis of linguistic theory 1930-55’, in Palmer, F. R. (ed.), Selected Papers of J. R. Firth 1952-59, London: Longman, pp. 168-205.

Frolov, I. T. & Ado A.V. (eds.) (1986). Filosofskij slovar [Dictionary of Philosophy]. Moscow: Izdatelstvo politicheskoi literatury.

Golosova, N. V. (2016). ‘Pragmalingvisticheskie osnovanija komicheskogo’ [Pragmatic and Linguistic Bases for the Comic]. Philological Sciences. Issues of Theory and Practice 6 (60), pp. 81-83.

Gornostaeva, A. (2013). ‘Ironia v anglijskoj i russkoj kommunikativnykh kul’turakh’ [Irony in the English and Russian Communicative Cultures]. Dissertation Abstract. Moscow: Russian University of People’s Friendship.

Hacken, P. (2015). ‘Terms and specialized vocabulary: Taming the prototypes’, in Kockaert, H. J. & Steurs F. (eds.), Handbook of terminology, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 3-13.

Hartmann, R. R. K. & James G. (1998). Dictionary of Lexicography. London/New York: Psychology Press.

Hempelmann, C. F. & Gironzetti, E. (2015). ‘An interlingual study of the lexico-semantic field LAUGH in Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. Journal of Literary Semantics 44 (2), pp. 141-167.

Hempelmann, Ch. F. (2017). ‘Key Terms in the Field of Humor’, in Attardo S. (ed.), The Language Handbook of Language and Humor, New York/London: Routledge, pp. 34-48.

Kapatsinskaya, V. M. (2007). ‘Komicheskij tekst. Problema vydelenija rechvogo i situativnogo v komicheskom tekste’ [The Comic Text. The Problem of Identifying Speech and Situational Comic in the Text]. Proceedings of N.I. Lobachevsky Nizhny Novgorod University 3, pp. 224-228.

Kozintsev A. G. (2007). Chelovek i smekh [Human and Laughter]. Saint-Petersburg: Aleteija.

Kuznetsov S. A. (ed.) (1998). Bolshoj tolkovyj slovar’ russkogo jazyka [The Large Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language]. Saint-Petersburg: Norint.

L’Homme M.-C. (2020). Lexical Semantics for Terminology. An Introduction. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

L’Homme M.-C. & Marshman E. (2006). ‘Terminological Relationships and Corpus-based Methods for Discovering Them: An Assessment for Terminographers’, in Bowker, L. (ed.) Lexicography, Terminology and Translation: Text-based Studies in Honour of Ingrid Meyer, Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, pp. 67-80.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online (2020). Retrieved 27 March 2020 from https://www.ldoceonline.com.

MacMillan English Dictionary (2009-2020). Retrieved 27 March 2020 from https://www.macmillandictionary.com.

Morreall, J. (2011). Comic Relief: A Comprehensive Philosophy of Humor. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Nikolaev P. A. & Stroganov M.V. (eds.) (2006). Literatura i jazyk. Sovremennaja illustrirovannaja entsiklopedia [Literature and language. A modern illustrated encyclopedia]. Moscow: Rosman.

Palazhchenko, P. (2017). Moj nesistematicheskij slovar’. Iz zapisnoj knizhki perevodchika [My non-systematic dictionary. From the interpreter’s notebooks in 2 volumes]. Moscow: R-Valent.

Pivoev V. M. (2017). Ironija kak fenomen kul’tury [Irony as a phenomenon of culture]. Moscow/Berlin: Direct-Media.

Pokhodnya, S. I. (1989). Jazykovye vidy i sredstva realizatsii ironii [Verbal types and means of expressing irony]. Kiev: Naukova dumka.

Prokhorov A. M. (ed.) (1997). Bolshoj entsiklopedicheskij slovar [The Large Encyclopedic Dictionary]. Moscow: Bolshaja Rossijskaja Entsiklopedija.

Propp, V. (1976). Problemy komizma i smekha [The Problems of Comic and Laughter]. Moscow: Iskusstvo.

Propp, V. (2009). On the Comic and Laughter. [eds. and transl. by Debbèche, J.-P. & Perron, P.]. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Raskin V. & Attardo S. (1994). ‘Non-literalness and non-bona-fide in language: An approach to formal and computational treatments of humor’. Pragmatics and Cognition 2 (1), pp. 31-69.

Riumina, M. T. (2010). Estetika smekha: Smekh kak virtualnaja realnost [The Aesthetics of Laughter: Laughter as a Virtual reality]. Moscow: Librokom.

Roston, M. (2011). The Comic Mode in English Literature: From the Middle Ages to Today. London / New York: Continuum.

Ruch, W. (2007). ‘Foreword and overview. Sense of humor: A new look at an old concept’, in Ruch, W. (ed.), The Sense of Humor: Explorations of a Personality Characteristic. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 3-14.

Russian National Corpus (2004-2020). Retrieved on March 27, 2020 from www.ruscorpora.ru.

Shilikhina, K. (2013). ‘Canned jokes in Russian public political discourse’. European Journal of Humour Research 1 (2), pp. 84-100.

Shmeleva, E. Y., Shmelev, A. D. (2002). Russkij anekdot: Tekst i rechevoj zhanr [Russian canned joke: a text and a speech genre]. Moscow: Jazyki slavyanskoj kul’tury.

The Russian Science Citation Index (2020). Retrieved 20 March 2020 from www.elibrary.ru.

Ushakov D. N. (ed.) (2006). Tolkovyj slovar’ russkogo jazyka [The Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian Language]. Moscow: Alta-Print.

Vasilieva, V. V. (2017). ‘Anecdote in professional media text: re-profiling of the speech genre’. Media Linguistics 4 (19), pp. 80-89. Retrieved 25 March 2020 from https://medialing.ru/anekdot-v-professionalnom-mediatekste-pereprofilirovanie-rechevogo-zhanra.

Verzhinskaya I. V. (2011). ‘Jumor: istorija i klassifikatsija ponyatija’ [Humour: the history and classification of the concept]. Proceedings of Chelyabinsk State University 11 (226). pp. 29-32.

Waterlow, J. (2018). ”It’s Only a Joke, Comrade!” Humour, Trust and Everyday Life Under Stalin (1928-1941). Oxford: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

All authors agree to an Attribution Non-Commercial Non Derivative Creative Commons License on their work.


Download data is not yet available.