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Title: A computational model of lexical incongruity in humorous text
Author: Venour, Chris
ISNI:       0000 0004 2740 1832
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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Many theories of humour claim that incongruity is an essential ingredient of humour. How- ever this idea is poorly understood and little work has been done in computational humour to quantify it. For example classifiers which attempt to distinguish jokes from regular texts tend to look for secondary features of humorous texts rather than for incongruity. Similarly most joke generators attempt to recreate structural patterns found in example jokes but do not deliberately endeavour to create incongruity. As in previous research, this thesis develops classifiers and a joke generator which attempt to automatically recognize and generate a type of humour. However the systems described here differ from previous programs because they implement a model of a certain type of humorous incongruity. We focus on a type of register humour we call lexical register jokes in which the tones of individual words are in conflict with each other. Our goal is to create a semantic space that reflects the kind of tone at play in lexical register jokes so that words that are far apart in the space are not simply different but exhibit the kinds of incongruities seen in lexical jokes. This thesis attempts to develop such a space and various classifiers are implemented to use it to distinguish lexical register jokes from regular texts. The best of these classifiers achieved high levels of accuracy when distinguishing between a test set of lexical register jokes and 4 different kinds of regular text. A joke generator which makes use of the semantic space to create original lexical register jokes is also implemented and described in this thesis. In a test of the generator, texts that were generated by the system were evaluated by volunteers who considered them not as humorous as human-made lexical register jokes but significantly more humorous than a set of control (i.e.non- joke) texts. This was an encouraging result which suggests that the vector space is somewhat successful in discovering lexical differences in tone and in modelling lexical register jokes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Natural language processing (Computer science)