What is the purpose of this structure?

What is the purpose of this structure?

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I wonder what the purpose is of the structure located above the entrance of the Charter Street Ragged School & Working Girls Home in Manchester:

Is it purely ornamental? According to this page it was built in 1847.

Image from Google Street View.

What Are the Purpose of Castles?

Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

  • Doctor of Arts, University of Albany, SUNY
  • M.S., Literacy Education, University of Albany, SUNY
  • B.A., English, Virginia Commonwealth University

Originally, a castle was a fortress built to protect strategic locations from enemy attack or to serve as a military base for invading armies. Some dictionaries describe a castle simply as "a fortified habitation."

The earliest "modern" castle design dates from Roman Legionary Camps. The medieval castles we know in Europe were constructed of earthwork and timber. Dating as far back as the 9th century, these early structures were often built over ancient Roman foundations.

Over the next three centuries, wooden fortifications evolved into imposing stone walls. High parapets, or battlements, had narrow openings (embrasures) for shooting. By the 13th century, lofty stone towers were popping up across Europe. The Medieval castle at Penaranda de Duero, northern Spain is often how we imagine castles.

People seeking protection from invading armies built villages around established castles. Local nobility took the safest residences for themselves — inside the castle walls. Castles became homes, and also served as important political centers.

As Europe moved into the Renaissance, the role of castles expanded. Some were used as military fortresses and were controlled by a monarch. Others were unfortified palaces, mansions, or manor homes and served no military function. Still others, like the plantation castles of Northern Ireland, were large homes, fortified to protect immigrants like the Scots from the resentful local Irish inhabitants. The ruins of Tully Castle in County Fermanagh, uninhabited since attacked and destroyed in 1641, exemplify the 17th century fortified house.

Although Europe and Great Britain are famous for their castles, imposing fortresses and grand palaces have played an important role in most countries around the world. Japan is home to many impressive castles. Even the United States claims hundreds of modern "castles" built by wealthy businessmen. Some of the homes built during America's Gilded Age resemble fortified habitations designed to keep out perceived enemies.

The Oxford House Network: A Self-Run Structure

Three or more Oxford Houses within a 100 mile radius comprise an Oxford House Chapter. A representative of each House in the Chapter meets with the others on a monthly basis, to exchange information, to seek resolution of problems in a particular House, and to express that Chapter's vote on larger issues.

The World Council is comprised of 12 members: 9 of which presently live in an Oxford House, and 3 alumni. Members are elected each year at the Oxford House World Convention. The primary mission of the Oxford House World Council is to facilitate adherence to Oxford House Traditions' concept and system of operations, by providing effective means of communication and mission focus between the various organizational structures of Oxford House as a whole. In carrying out its mission the Council always keeps a focus on expansion of the network of individual Oxford Houses, to provide all recovering alcoholics and drug addictions the opportunity to develop comfortable sobriety without relapse.

The Board of Directors maintains the sole right to Charter, and to revoke the Charter of, individual Oxford Houses and exercises authority over the policies and officers of Oxford House, Inc. In this way, Oxford House, Inc. remains responsive to the needs of the population it serves.

Phone: (301) 587-2916
Toll Free: (800) 689-6411
Fax: (301) 589-0302

Address: Oxford House, Inc.
1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 300
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Chapter 1: Housing History and Purpose

&ldquoSafe, affordable housing is a basic necessity for every family. Without a decent place to live, people cannot be productive members of society, children cannot learn and families cannot thrive.&rdquo

Tracy Kaufman, Research Associate
National Low Income Housing Coalition/
Low Income Housing Information Service 2003

The term &ldquoshelter,&rdquo which is often used to define housing, has a strong connection to the ultimate purpose of housing throughout the world. The mental image of a shelter is of a safe, secure place that provides both privacy and protection from the elements and the temperature extremes of the outside world. This vision of shelter, however, is complex. The earthquake in Bam, Iran, before dawn on December 26, 2003, killed in excess of 30,000 people, most of whom were sleeping in their homes. Although the homes were made of the most simple construction materials, many were well over a thousand years old. Living in a home where generation after generation had been raised should provide an enormous sense of security. Nevertheless, the world press has repeatedly implied that the construction of these homes destined this disaster. The homes in Iran were constructed of sun-dried mud-brick and mud.

We should think of our homes as a legacy to future generations and consider the negative environmental effects of building them to serve only one or two generations before razing or reconstructing them. Homes should be built for sustainability and for ease in future modification. We need to learn the lessons of the earthquake in Iran, as well as the 2003 heat wave in France that killed in excess of 15,000 people because of the lack of climate control systems in their homes. We must use our experience, history, and knowledge of both engineering and human health needs to construct housing that meets the need for privacy, comfort, recreation, and health maintenance.

Health, home construction, and home maintenance are inseparable because of their overlapping goals. Many highly trained individuals must work together to achieve quality, safe, and healthy housing. Contractors, builders, code inspectors, housing inspectors, environmental health officers, injury control specialists, and epidemiologists all are indispensable to achieving the goal of the best housing in the world for U.S. citizens. This goal is the basis for the collaboration of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC).

Preurban Housing
Early dwelling designs were probably the result of cultural, socioeconomic, and physical forces intrinsic to the environment of their inhabitants. The housing similarities among civilizations separated by vast distances may have been a result of a shared heritage, common influences, or chance.

Caves were accepted as dwellings, perhaps because they were ready made and required little or no construction. However, in areas with no caves, simple shelters were constructed and adapted to the availability of resources and the needs of the population. Classification systems have been developed to demonstrate how dwelling types evolved in preurban indigenous settings [1].

Ephemeral Dwellings
Ephemeral dwellings, also known as transient dwellings, were typical of nomadic peoples. The African bushmen and Australia&rsquos aborigines are examples of societies whose existence depends on an economy of hunting and food gathering in its simple form. Habitation of an ephemeral dwelling is generally a matter of days.

Episodic Dwellings
Episodic housing is exemplified by the Inuit igloo, the tents of the Tungus of eastern Siberia, and the very similar tents of the Lapps of northern Europe. These groups are more sophisticated than those living in ephemeral dwellings, tend to be more skilled in hunting or fishing, inhabit a dwelling for a period of weeks, and have a greater effect on the environment. These groups also construct communal housing and often practice slash-and-burn cultivation, which is the least productive use of cropland and has a greater environmental impact than the hunting and gathering of ephemeral dwellers.

Periodic Dwellings
Periodic dwellings are also defined as regular temporary dwellings used by nomadic tribal societies living in a pastoral economy. This type of housing is reflected in the yurt used by the Mongolian and Kirgizian groups and the Bedouins of North Africa and western Asia. These groups&rsquo dwellings essentially demonstrate the next step in the evolution of housing, which is linked to societal development. Pastoral nomads are distinguished from people living in episodic dwellings by their homogenous cultures and the beginnings of political organization. Their environmental impact increases with their increased dependence on agriculture rather than livestock.

Seasonal Dwellings
Schoenauer [1] describes seasonal dwellings as reflective of societies that are tribal in nature, seminomadic, and based on agricultural pursuits that are both pastoral and marginal. Housing used by seminomads for several months or for a season can be considered semisedentary and reflective of the advancement of the concept of property, which is lacking in the preceding societies. This concept of property is primarily of communal property, as opposed to individual or personal property. This type of housing is found in diverse environmental conditions and is demonstrated in North America by the hogans and armadas of the Navajo Indians. Similar housing can be found in Tanzania (Barabaig) and in Kenya and Tanzania (Masai).

Semipermanent Dwellings
According to Schoenauer [1], sedentary folk societies or hoe peasants practicing subsistence agriculture by cultivating staple crops use semipermanent dwellings. These groups tend to live in their dwellings various amounts of time, usually years, as defined by their crop yields. When land needs to lie fallow, they move to more fertile areas. Groups in the Americas that used semipermanent dwellings included the Mayans with their oval houses and the Hopi, Zuni, and Acoma Indians in the southwestern United States with their pueblos.

Permanent Dwellings
The homes of sedentary agricultural societies, whose political and social organizations are defined as nations and who possess surplus agricultural products, exemplify this type of dwelling. Surplus agricultural products allowed the division of labor and the introduction of other pursuits aside from food production however, agriculture is still the primary occupation for a significant portion of the population. Although they occurred at different points in time, examples of early sedentary agricultural housing can be found in English cottages, such as the Suffolk, Cornwall, and Kent cottages [1].

Permanent dwellings went beyond simply providing shelter and protection and moved to the consideration of comfort. These structures began to find their way into what is now known as the urban setting. The earliest available evidence suggests that towns came into existence around 4000 BC. Thus began the social and public health problems that would increase as the population of cities increased in number and in sophistication. In preurban housing, the sparse concentration of people allowed for movement away from human pollution or allowed the dilution of pollution at its location. The movement of populations into urban settings placed individuals in close proximity, without the benefit of previous linkages and without the ability to relocate away from pollution or other people.

Urbanization was relatively slow to begin, but once started, it accelerated rapidly. In the 1800s, only about 3% of the population of the world could be found in urban settings in excess of 5,000 people. This was soon to change. The year 1900 saw the percentage increase to 13.6% and subsequently to 29.8% in 1950. The world&rsquos urban population has grown since that time. By 1975, more than one in three of the world&rsquos population lived in an urban setting, with almost one out of every two living in urban areas by 1997. Industrialized countries currently find approximately 75% of their population in an urban setting. The United Nations projects that in 2015 the world&rsquos urban population will rise to approximately 55% and that in industrialized nations it will rise to just over 80%.

In the Western world, one of the primary forces driving urbanization was the Industrial Revolution. The basic source of energy in the earliest phase of the Industrial Revolution was water provided by flowing rivers. Therefore, towns and cities grew next to the great waterways. Factory buildings were of wood and stone and matched the houses in which the workers lived, both in construction and in location. Workers&rsquo homes were little different in the urban setting than the agricultural homes from whence they came. However, living close to the workplace was a definite advantage for the worker of the time. When the power source for factories changed from water to coal, steam became the driver and the construction materials became brick and cast iron, which later evolved into steel. Increasing populations in cities and towns increased social problems in overcrowded slums. The lack of inexpensive, rapid public transportation forced many workers to live close to their work. These factory areas were not the pastoral areas with which many were familiar, but were bleak with smoke and other pollutants.

The inhabitants of rural areas migrated to ever-expanding cities looking for work. Between 1861 and 1911 the population of England grew by 80%. The cities and towns of England were woefully unprepared to cope with the resulting environmental problems, such as the lack of potable water and insufficient sewerage.

In this atmosphere, cholera was rampant and death rates resembled those of Third World countries today. Children had a one in six chance of dying before the age of 1 year. Because of urban housing problems, social reformers such as Edwin Chadwick began to appear. Chadwick&rsquos Report on an Enquiry into the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain and on the Means of its Improvement [2] sought many reforms, some of which concerned building ventilation and open spaces around the buildings. However, Chadwick&rsquos primary contention was that the health of the working classes could be improved by proper street cleaning, drainage, sewage, ventilation, and water supplies. In the United States, Shattuck et al. [3] wrote the Report of the Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts, which was printed in 1850. In the report, 50 recommendations were made. Among those related to housing and building issues were recommendations for protecting school children by ventilation and sanitation of school buildings, emphasizing town planning and controlling overcrowded tenements and cellar dwellings. Figure 1.1 demonstrates the conditions common in the tenements.

In 1845, Dr. John H. Griscom, the City Inspector of New York, published The Sanitary Condition of the Laboring Population of New York [4]. His document expressed once again the argument for housing reform and sanitation. Griscom is credited with being the first to use the phrase &ldquohow the other half lives.&rdquo During this time, the poor were not only subjected to the physical problems of poor housing, but also were victimized by corrupt landlords and builders.

Trends in Housing
The term &ldquotenement house&rdquo was first used in America and dates from the mid-nineteenth century. It was often intertwined with the term &ldquoslum.&rdquo Wright [5] notes that in English, tenement meant &ldquoan abode for a person or for the soul, when someone else owned the property.&rdquo Slum, on the other hand, initially was used at the beginning of the 19th century as a slang term for a room. By the middle of the century, slum had evolved into a term for a back dwelling occupied by the lowest members of society. Von Hoffman [6] states that this term had, by the end of the century, begun to be used interchangeably with the term tenement. The author noted additionally that in the larger cities of the United States, the apartment house emerged in the 1830s as a housing unit of two to five stories, with each story containing apartments of two to four rooms. It was originally built for the upper group of the working class. The tenement house emerged in the 1830s when landlords converted warehouses into inexpensive housing designed to accommodate Irish and black workers. Additionally, existing large homes were subdivided and new structures were added, creating rear houses and, in the process, eliminating the traditional gardens and yards behind them. These rear houses, although new, were no healthier than the front house, often housing up to 10 families. When this strategy became inadequate to satisfy demand, the epoch period of the tenements began.

Although unpopular, the tenement house grew in numbers, and, by 1850 in New York and Boston, each tenement housed an average of 65 people. During the 1850s, the railroad house or railroad tenement was introduced. This structure was a solid, rectangular block with a narrow alley in the back. The structure was typically 90 feet long and had 12 to 16 rooms, each about 6 feet by 6 feet and holding around four people. The facility allowed no direct light or air into rooms except those facing the street or alley. Further complicating this structure was the lack of privacy for the tenants. A lack of hallways eliminated any semblance of privacy. Open sewers, a single privy in the back of the building, and uncollected garbage resulted in an objectionable and unhygienic place to live. Additionally, the wood construction common at the time, coupled with coal and wood heating, made fire an ever-present danger. As a result of a series of tenement fires in 1860 in New York, such terms as death-trap and fire-trap were coined to describe the poorly constructed living facilities [6].

The two last decades of the 19th century saw the introduction and development of dumbbell tenements, a front and rear tenement connected by a long hall. These tenements were typically five stories, with a basement and no elevator (elevators were not required for any building of less than six stories). Dumbbell tenements, like other tenements, resulted in unaesthetic and unhealthy places to live. Garbage was often thrown down the airshafts, natural light was confined to the first floor hallway and the public hallways only contained one or two toilets and a sink. This apparent lack of sanitary facilities was compounded by the fact that many families took in boarders to help with expenses. In fact, 44,000 families rented space to boarders in New York in 1890, with this increasing to 164,000 families in 1910. In the early 1890s, New York had a population of more than 1 million, of which 70% were residents of multifamily dwellings. Of this group, 80% lived in tenements consisting mostly of dumbbell tenements.

The passage of the New York Tenement House Act of 1901 spelled the end of the dumbbells and acceptance of a new tenement type developed in the 1890s&mdashthe park or central court tenement, which was distinguished by a park or open space in the middle of a group of buildings. This design was implemented to reduce the activity on the front street and to enhance the opportunity for fresh air and recreation in the courtyard. The design often included roof playgrounds, kindergartens, communal laundries, and stairways on the courtyard side.

Although the tenements did not go away, reform groups supported ideas such as suburban cottages to be developed for the working class. These cottages were two-story brick and timber, with a porch and a gabled roof. According to Wright [5], a Brooklyn project called Homewood consisted of 53 acres of homes in a planned neighborhood from which multifamily dwellings, saloons, and factories were banned.

Although there were many large homes for the well-to-do, single homes for the not-so-wealthy were not abundant. The first small house designed for the individual of modest means was the bungalow. According to Schoenauer [1], bungalows originated in India. The bungalow was introduced into the United States in 1880 with the construction of a home in Cape Cod. The bungalow, derived for use in tropical climates, was especially popular in California.

Company towns were another trend in housing in the 19th century. George Pullman, who built railway cars in the 1880s, and John H. Patterson, of the National Cash Register Company, developed notable company towns. Wright [5] notes that in 1917 the U.S. Bureau of Labor Standards estimated that at least 1,000 industrial firms were providing housing for their employees. The provision of housing was not necessarily altruistic. The motivation for providing housing varied from company to company. Such motivations included the use of housing as a recruitment incentive for skilled workers, a method of linking the individual to the company, and a belief that a better home life would make the employees happier and more productive in their jobs. Some companies, such as Firestone and Goodyear, went beyond the company town and allowed their employees to obtain loans for homes from company-established banks. A prime motivator of company town planning was sanitation, because maintaining the worker&rsquos health could potentially lead to fewer workdays lost due to illness. Thus, in the development of the town, significant consideration was given to sanitary issues such as window screens, sewage treatment, drainage, and water supplies.

Before World War I there was a shortage of adequate dwellings. Even after World War I, insufficient funding, a shortage of skilled labor, and a dearth of building materials compounded the problem. However, the design of homes after the war was driven in part by health considerations, such as providing good ventilation, sun orientation and exposure, potable pressurized water, and at least one private toilet. Schoenauer [1] notes that, during the postwar years, the improved mobility of the public led to an increase in the growth of suburban areas, exemplified by the detached and sumptuous communities outside New York, such as Oyster Bay. In the meantime, the conditions of working populations consisting of many immigrants began to improve with the improving economy of the 1920s. The garden apartment became popular. These units were well lighted and ventilated and had a courtyard, which was open to all and well maintained.

Immediately after World War I and during the 1920s, city population growth was outpaced by population growth in the suburbs by a factor of two. The focus at the time was on the single-family suburban dwelling. The 1920s were a time of growth, but the decade following the Great Depression, beginning in 1929, was one of deflation, cessation of building, loss of mortgage financing, and the plunge into unemployment of large numbers of building trade workers. Additionally, 1.5 million home loans were foreclosed during this period. In 1936, the housing market began to make a comeback however, the 1930s would come to be known as the beginning of public housing, with increased public involvement in housing construction, as demonstrated by the many laws passed during the era [5]. The National Housing Act was passed by Congress in 1934 and set up the Federal Housing Administration. This agency encouraged banks, building and loan associations, and others to make loans for building homes, small business establishments, and farm buildings. If the Federal Housing Administration approved the plans, it would insure the loan. In 1937, Congress passed another National Housing Act that enabled the Federal Housing Administration to take control of slum clearance. It made 60-year loans at low interest to local governments to help them build apartment blocks. Rents in these homes were fixed and were only available to low-income families. By 1941, the agency had assisted in the construction of more than 120,000 family units.

During World War II, the focus of home building was on housing for workers who were involved in the war effort. Homes were being built through federal agencies such as the newly formed Federal Housing Administration, formed in 1934 and transferred to HUD in 1965. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (USCB) [7], in the years since World War II, the types of homes Americans live in have changed dramatically. In 1940, most homes were considered attached houses (row houses, townhouses, and duplexes). Small apartment houses with two to four apartments had their zenith in the 1950s. In the 1960 census, two-thirds of the housing inventory was made up of one-family detached houses, which declined to less than 60% in the 1990 census.

The postwar years saw the expansion of suburban housing led by William J. Levitt&rsquos Levittown, on Long Island, which had a strong influence on postwar building and initiated the subdivisions and tract houses of the following decades Figure 1.2. The 1950s and 1960s saw continued suburban development, with the growing ease of transportation marked by the expansion of the interstate highway system. As the cost of housing began to increase as a result of increased demand, a grassroots movement to provide adequate housing for the poor began to emerge. According to Wright [5], in the 1970s only about 25% of the population could afford a $35,000 home. According to Gaillard [8], Koinonia Partners, a religious organization founded in 1942 by Clarence Jordan near Albany, Georgia, was the seed for Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller, is known for its international efforts and has constructed more than 150,000 houses in 80 countries 50,000 of these houses are in the United States. The homes are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly to conserve resources and reduce long-term costs to the homeowners.

Builders also began promoting one-floor mini homes and no-frills homes of approximately 900 to 1,200 square feet. Manufactured housing began to increase in popularity, with mobile home manufacturers becoming some of the most profitable corporations in the United States in the early 1970s. In the 1940 census, manufactured housing were lumped into the &ldquoother&rdquo category with boats and tourist cabins: by the 1990 census, manufactured housing made up 7% of the total housing inventory. Many communities ban manufactured housing from residential neighborhoods.

According to Hart et al. [9], nearly 30% of all home sales nationwide are of manufactured housing, and more than 90% of those homes are never moved once they are anchored. According to a 2001 industry report, the demand for prefabricated housing is expected to increase in excess of 3% annually to $20 billion in 2005, with most units being manufactured homes. The largest market is expected to continue in the southern part of the United States, with the most rapid growth occurring in the western part of the country. As of 2000, five manufactured-home producers, representing 35% of the market, dominated the industry. This industry, over the past 20 to 25 years, has been affected by two pieces of federal legislation. The first, the Mobile Home Construction and Safety Standards Act, adopted by HUD in 1974, was passed to aid consumers through regulation and enforcement of HUD design and construction standards for manufactured homes. The second, the 1980 Housing Act, required the federal government to change the term &ldquomobile home&rdquo to &ldquomanufactured housing&rdquo in all federal laws and literature. One of the prime reasons for this change was that these homes were in reality no longer mobile in the true sense.

The energy crisis in the United States between 1973 and 1974 had a major effect on the way Americans lived, drove, and built their homes. The high cost of both heating and cooling homes required action, and some of the action taken was ill advised or failed to consider healthy housing concerns. Sealing homes and using untried insulation materials and other energy conservation actions often resulted in major and sometimes dangerous buildups of indoor air pollutants. These buildups of toxins occurred both in homes and offices. Sealing buildings for energy efficiency and using off-gassing building materials containing urea-formaldehyde, vinyl, and other new plastic surfaces, new glues, and even wallpapers created toxic environments. These newly sealed environments were not refreshed with makeup air and resulted in the accumulation of both chemical and biologic pollutants and moisture leading to mold growth, representing new threats to both short-term and long-term health. The results of these actions are still being dealt with today.

    Schoenauer N. 6,000 years of housing. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2000. Chadwick E. Report on an enquiry into the sanitary condition of the labouring population of Great Britain and on the means of its improvements. London: Clowes and Sons 1842. Shattuck L, Banks N Jr, Abbot J. Report of the Sanitary
    Commission of Massachusetts, 1850. Boston: Dutton and Wentworth 1850. Available from URL: Cdc-pdf [PDF -876 KB] External . Griscom JH. The sanitary condition of the labouring population of New York. New York: Harper 1845. Wright G. Building the dream&mdasha social history of housing in America. Cambridge, MA/London: The MIT Press 1998. Von Hoffman A. The origins of American housing reform. Cambridge, MA: Joint Center for Housing Studies&mdashHarvard University August 1998. p. W98-2. US Census Bureau. Historical census of housing tables&mdashunits in structure 2002. Washington, DC: US Census Bureau 2002. Available from URL: External . Gaillard F. If I were a carpenter, twenty years of Habitat for Humanity. Winston-Salem, NC: John E. Blair 1996. Hart JF, Rhodes MJ, Morgan JT, Lindberg MB. The unknown world of the mobile home. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press 2002.

Additional Sources of Information

Dolkart A. The 1901 Tenement House Act: chapter 6, cleaning up the toilets. New York: Lower East Side Tenement Museum no date. Available from URL:

Hale EE. Workingmen&rsquos homes, essays and stories, on the homes of men who work in large towns. Boston: James R. Osgood and Company 1874.

History of plumbing in America. Plumbing and Mechanical Magazine 1987 Jul. Available from URL: External .

Housing Act of 1949, The US Committee on Agriculture Glossary.

Lang RE, Sohmer RR. Editors&rsquo introduction, legacy of the Housing Act of 1949: the past, present, and future of federal housing and urban policy.
Housing Policy Debate 2000 11(2) 291&ndash8. Available from URL: [PDF &ndash 131 KB].

Mason JB. History of housing in the US. 1930&ndash1980. Houston, TX: Gulf Publishing Company 1982.


Any joke documented from the past has been saved through happenstance rather than design. Jokes do not belong to refined culture, but rather to the entertainment and leisure of all classes. As such, any printed versions were considered ephemera, i.e., temporary documents created for a specific purpose and intended to be thrown away. Many of these early jokes deal with scatological and sexual topics, entertaining to all social classes but not to be valued and saved.

Various kinds of jokes have been identified in ancient pre-classical texts. [note 2] The oldest identified joke is an ancient Sumerian proverb from 1900 BC containing toilet humour: "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap." Its records were dated to the Old Babylonian period and the joke may go as far back as 2300 BC. The second oldest joke found, discovered on the Westcar Papyrus and believed to be about Sneferu, was from Ancient Egypt circa 1600 BC: "How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish." The tale of the three ox drivers from Adab completes the three known oldest jokes in the world. This is a comic triple dating back to 1200 BC Adab. [4] It concerns three men seeking justice from a king on the matter of ownership over a newborn calf, for whose birth they all consider themselves to be partially responsible. The king seeks advice from a priestess on how to rule the case, and she suggests a series of events involving the men's households and wives. Unfortunately, the final portion of the story (which included the punch line), has not survived intact, though legible fragments suggest it was bawdy in nature.

The earliest extant joke book is the Philogelos (Greek for The Laughter-Lover), a collection of 265 jokes written in crude ancient Greek dating to the fourth or fifth century AD. [5] [6] The author of the collection is obscure [7] and a number of different authors are attributed to it, including "Hierokles and Philagros the grammatikos", just "Hierokles", or, in the Suda, "Philistion". [8] British classicist Mary Beard states that the Philogelos may have been intended as a jokester's handbook of quips to say on the fly, rather than a book meant to be read straight through. [8] Many of the jokes in this collection are surprisingly familiar, even though the typical protagonists are less recognisable to contemporary readers: the absent-minded professor, the eunuch, and people with hernias or bad breath. [5] The Philogelos even contains a joke similar to Monty Python's "Dead Parrot Sketch". [5]

During the 15th century, [9] the printing revolution spread across Europe following the development of the movable type printing press. This was coupled with the growth of literacy in all social classes. Printers turned out Jestbooks along with Bibles to meet both lowbrow and highbrow interests of the populace. One early anthology of jokes was the Facetiae by the Italian Poggio Bracciolini, first published in 1470. The popularity of this jest book can be measured on the twenty editions of the book documented alone for the 15th century. Another popular form was a collection of jests, jokes and funny situations attributed to a single character in a more connected, narrative form of the picaresque novel. Examples of this are the characters of Rabelais in France, Till Eulenspiegel in Germany, Lazarillo de Tormes in Spain and Master Skelton in England. There is also a jest book ascribed to William Shakespeare, the contents of which appear to both inform and borrow from his plays. All of these early jestbooks corroborate both the rise in the literacy of the European populations and the general quest for leisure activities during the Renaissance in Europe. [9]

The practice of printers to use jokes and cartoons as page fillers was also widely used in the broadsides and chapbooks of the 19th century and earlier. With the increase in literacy in the general population and the growth of the printing industry, these publications were the most common forms of printed material between the 16th and 19th centuries throughout Europe and North America. Along with reports of events, executions, ballads and verse, they also contained jokes. Only one of many broadsides archived in the Harvard library is described as "1706. Grinning made easy or, Funny Dick's unrivalled collection of curious, comical, odd, droll, humorous, witty, whimsical, laughable, and eccentric jests, jokes, bulls, epigrams, &c. With many other descriptions of wit and humour." [10] These cheap publications, ephemera intended for mass distribution, were read alone, read aloud, posted and discarded.

There are many types of joke books in print today a search on the internet provides a plethora of titles available for purchase. They can be read alone for solitary entertainment, or used to stock up on new jokes to entertain friends. Some people try to find a deeper meaning in jokes, as in "Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar. Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes". [11] [note 3] However a deeper meaning is not necessary to appreciate their inherent entertainment value. [12] Magazines frequently use jokes and cartoons as filler for the printed page. Reader's Digest closes out many articles with an (unrelated) joke at the bottom of the article. The New Yorker was first published in 1925 with the stated goal of being a "sophisticated humour magazine" and is still known for its cartoons.

Telling a joke is a cooperative effort [13] [14] it requires that the teller and the audience mutually agree in one form or another to understand the narrative which follows as a joke. In a study of conversation analysis, the sociologist Harvey Sacks describes in detail the sequential organisation in the telling a single joke. "This telling is composed, as for stories, of three serially ordered and adjacently placed types of sequences … the preface [framing], the telling, and the response sequences." [15] Folklorists expand this to include the context of the joking. Who is telling what jokes to whom? And why is he telling them when? [16] [17] The context of the joke telling in turn leads into a study of joking relationships, a term coined by anthropologists to refer to social groups within a culture who engage in institutionalised banter and joking.

Framing: "Have you heard the one…"

Framing is done with a (frequently formulaic) expression which keys the audience in to expect a joke. "Have you heard the one…", "Reminds me of a joke I heard…", "So, a lawyer and a doctor…" these conversational markers are just a few examples of linguistic frames used to start a joke. Regardless of the frame used, it creates a social space and clear boundaries around the narrative which follows. [18] Audience response to this initial frame can be acknowledgement and anticipation of the joke to follow. It can also be a dismissal, as in "this is no joking matter" or "this is no time for jokes".

Within its performance frame, joke-telling is labelled as a culturally marked form of communication. Both the performer and audience understand it to be set apart from the "real" world. "An elephant walks into a bar…" a native English speaker automatically understands that this is the start of a joke, and the story that follows is not meant to be taken at face value (i.e. it is non-bona-fide communication). [19] The framing itself invokes a play mode if the audience is unable or unwilling to move into play, then nothing will seem funny. [20]


Following its linguistic framing the joke, in the form of a story, can be told. It is not required to be verbatim text like other forms of oral literature such as riddles and proverbs. The teller can and does modify the text of the joke, depending both on memory and the present audience. The important characteristic is that the narrative is succinct, containing only those details which lead directly to an understanding and decoding of the punchline. This requires that it support the same (or similar) divergent scripts which are to be embodied in the punchline. [21]

The narrative always contains a protagonist who becomes the "butt" or target of the joke. This labelling serves to develop and solidify stereotypes within the culture. It also enables researchers to group and analyse the creation, persistence and interpretation of joke cycles around a certain character. Some people are naturally better performers than others, however anyone can tell a joke because the comic trigger is contained in the narrative text and punchline. A joke poorly told is still funny unless the punchline gets mangled.


The punchline is intended to make the audience laugh. A linguistic interpretation of this punchline / response is elucidated by Victor Raskin in his Script-based Semantic Theory of Humour. Humour is evoked when a trigger contained in the punchline causes the audience to abruptly shift its understanding of the story from the primary (or more obvious) interpretation to a secondary, opposing interpretation. "The punchline is the pivot on which the joke text turns as it signals the shift between the [semantic] scripts necessary to interpret [re-interpret] the joke text." [22] To produce the humour in the verbal joke, the two interpretations (i.e. scripts) need to both be compatible with the joke text and opposite or incompatible with each other. [23] Thomas R. Shultz, a psychologist, independently expands Raskin's linguistic theory to include "two stages of incongruity: perception and resolution." He explains that "… incongruity alone is insufficient to account for the structure of humour. […] Within this framework, humour appreciation is conceptualized as a biphasic sequence involving first the discovery of incongruity followed by a resolution of the incongruity." [24] Resolution generates laughter.

This is the point at which the field of neurolinguistics offers some insight into the cognitive processing involved in this abrupt laughter at the punchline. Studies by the cognitive science researchers Coulson and Kutas directly address the theory of script switching articulated by Raskin in their work. [25] The article "Getting it: Human event-related brain response to jokes in good and poor comprehenders" measures brain activity in response to reading jokes. [26] Additional studies by others in the field support more generally the theory of two-stage processing of humour, as evidenced in the longer processing time they require. [27] In the related field of neuroscience, it has been shown that the expression of laughter is caused by two partially independent neuronal pathways: an "involuntary" or "emotionally driven" system and a "voluntary" system. [28] This study adds credence to the common experience when exposed to an off-colour joke a laugh is followed in the next breath by a disclaimer: "Oh, that's bad…" Here the multiple steps in cognition are clearly evident in the stepped response, the perception being processed just a breath faster than the resolution of the moral / ethical content in the joke.


Expected response to a joke is laughter. The joke teller hopes the audience "gets it" and is entertained. This leads to the premise that a joke is actually an "understanding test" between individuals and groups. [29] If the listeners do not get the joke, they are not understanding the two scripts which are contained in the narrative as they were intended. Or they do "get it" and don't laugh it might be too obscene, too gross or too dumb for the current audience. A woman might respond differently to a joke told by a male colleague around the water cooler than she would to the same joke overheard in a women's lavatory. A joke involving toilet humour may be funnier told on the playground at elementary school than on a college campus. The same joke will elicit different responses in different settings. The punchline in the joke remains the same, however it is more or less appropriate depending on the current context.

Shifting contexts, shifting texts

The context explores the specific social situation in which joking occurs. [30] The narrator automatically modifies the text of the joke to be acceptable to different audiences, while at the same time supporting the same divergent scripts in the punchline. The vocabulary used in telling the same joke at a university fraternity party and to one's grandmother might well vary. In each situation it is important to identify both the narrator and the audience as well as their relationship with each other. This varies to reflect the complexities of a matrix of different social factors: age, sex, race, ethnicity, kinship, political views, religion, power relationship, etc. When all the potential combinations of such factors between the narrator and the audience are considered, then a single joke can take on infinite shades of meaning for each unique social setting.

The context, however, should not be confused with the function of the joking. "Function is essentially an abstraction made on the basis of a number of contexts". [31] In one long-term observation of men coming off the late shift at a local café, joking with the waitresses was used to ascertain sexual availability for the evening. Different types of jokes, going from general to topical into explicitly sexual humour signalled openness on the part of the waitress for a connection. [32] This study describes how jokes and joking are used to communicate much more than just good humour. That is a single example of the function of joking in a social setting, but there are others. Sometimes jokes are used simply to get to know someone better. What makes them laugh, what do they find funny? Jokes concerning politics, religion or sexual topics can be used effectively to gage the attitude of the audience to any one of these topics. They can also be used as a marker of group identity, signalling either inclusion or exclusion for the group. Among pre-adolescents, "dirty" jokes allow them to share information about their changing bodies. [33] And sometimes joking is just simple entertainment for a group of friends.

The context of joking in turn leads into a study of joking relationships, a term coined by anthropologists to refer to social groups within a culture who take part in institutionalised banter and joking. These relationships can be either one-way or a mutual back and forth between partners. "The joking relationship is defined as a peculiar combination of friendliness and antagonism. The behaviour is such that in any other social context it would express and arouse hostility but it is not meant seriously and must not be taken seriously. There is a pretence of hostility along with a real friendliness. To put it in another way, the relationship is one of permitted disrespect." [34] Joking relationships were first described by anthropologists within kinship groups in Africa. But they have since been identified in cultures around the world, where jokes and joking are used to mark and re-inforce appropriate boundaries of a relationship. [35]

The advent of electronic communications at the end of the 20th century introduced new traditions into jokes. A verbal joke or cartoon is emailed to a friend or posted on a bulletin board reactions include a replied email with a :-) or LOL, or a forward on to further recipients. Interaction is limited to the computer screen and for the most part solitary. While preserving the text of a joke, both context and variants are lost in internet joking for the most part emailed jokes are passed along verbatim. [36] The framing of the joke frequently occurs in the subject line: "RE: laugh for the day" or something similar. The forward of an email joke can increase the number of recipients exponentially.

Internet joking forces a re-evaluation of social spaces and social groups. They are no longer only defined by physical presence and locality, they also exist in the connectivity in cyberspace. [37] "The computer networks appear to make possible communities that, although physically dispersed, display attributes of the direct, unconstrained, unofficial exchanges folklorists typically concern themselves with". [38] This is particularly evident in the spread of topical jokes, "that genre of lore in which whole crops of jokes spring up seemingly overnight around some sensational event … flourish briefly and then disappear, as the mass media move on to fresh maimings and new collective tragedies". [39] This correlates with the new understanding of the internet as an "active folkloric space" with evolving social and cultural forces and clearly identifiable performers and audiences. [40]

A study by the folklorist Bill Ellis documented how an evolving cycle was circulated over the internet. [41] By accessing message boards that specialised in humour immediately following the 9/11 disaster, Ellis was able to observe in real time both the topical jokes being posted electronically and responses to the jokes. "Previous folklore research has been limited to collecting and documenting successful jokes, and only after they had emerged and come to folklorists' attention. Now, an Internet-enhanced collection creates a time machine, as it were, where we can observe what happens in the period before the risible moment, when attempts at humour are unsuccessful". [42] Access to archived message boards also enables us to track the development of a single joke thread in the context of a more complicated virtual conversation. [41]

A joke cycle is a collection of jokes about a single target or situation which displays consistent narrative structure and type of humour. [43] Some well-known cycles are elephant jokes using nonsense humour, dead baby jokes incorporating black humour and light bulb jokes, which describe all kinds of operational stupidity. Joke cycles can centre on ethnic groups, professions (viola jokes), catastrophes, settings (…walks into a bar), absurd characters (wind-up dolls), or logical mechanisms which generate the humour (knock-knock jokes). A joke can be reused in different joke cycles an example of this is the same Head & Shoulders joke refitted to the tragedies of Vic Morrow, Admiral Mountbatten and the crew of the Challenger space shuttle. [note 4] [44] These cycles seem to appear spontaneously, spread rapidly across countries and borders only to dissipate after some time. Folklorists and others have studied individual joke cycles in an attempt to understand their function and significance within the culture.

Joke cycles circulated in the recent past include:

Tragedies and catastrophes

As with the 9/11 disaster discussed above, cycles attach themselves to celebrities or national catastrophes such as the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the death of Michael Jackson, and the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. These cycles arise regularly as a response to terrible unexpected events which command the national news. An in-depth analysis of the Challenger joke cycle documents a change in the type of humour circulated following the disaster, from February to March 1986. "It shows that the jokes appeared in distinct 'waves', the first responding to the disaster with clever wordplay and the second playing with grim and troubling images associated with the event…The primary social function of disaster jokes appears to be to provide closure to an event that provoked communal grieving, by signaling that it was time to move on and pay attention to more immediate concerns". [60]

Ethnic jokes

The sociologist Christie Davies has written extensively on ethnic jokes told in countries around the world. [61] In ethnic jokes he finds that the "stupid" ethnic target in the joke is no stranger to the culture, but rather a peripheral social group (geographic, economic, cultural, linguistic) well known to the joke tellers. [62] So Americans tell jokes about Polacks and Italians, Germans tell jokes about Ostfriesens, and the English tell jokes about the Irish. In a review of Davies' theories it is said that "For Davies, [ethnic] jokes are more about how joke tellers imagine themselves than about how they imagine those others who serve as their putative targets…The jokes thus serve to center one in the world – to remind people of their place and to reassure them that they are in it." [63]

Absurdities and gallows humour

A third category of joke cycles identifies absurd characters as the butt: for example the grape, the dead baby or the elephant. Beginning in the 1960s, social and cultural interpretations of these joke cycles, spearheaded by the folklorist Alan Dundes, began to appear in academic journals. Dead baby jokes are posited to reflect societal changes and guilt caused by widespread use of contraception and abortion beginning in the 1960s. [note 5] [64] Elephant jokes have been interpreted variously as stand-ins for American blacks during the Civil Rights Era [65] or as an "image of something large and wild abroad in the land captur[ing] the sense of counterculture" of the sixties. [66] These interpretations strive for a cultural understanding of the themes of these jokes which go beyond the simple collection and documentation undertaken previously by folklorists and ethnologists.

As folktales and other types of oral literature became collectibles throughout Europe in the 19th century (Brothers Grimm et al.), folklorists and anthropologists of the time needed a system to organise these items. The Aarne–Thompson classification system was first published in 1910 by Antti Aarne, and later expanded by Stith Thompson to become the most renowned classification system for European folktales and other types of oral literature. Its final section addresses anecdotes and jokes, listing traditional humorous tales ordered by their protagonist "This section of the Index is essentially a classification of the older European jests, or merry tales – humorous stories characterized by short, fairly simple plots. …" [67] Due to its focus on older tale types and obsolete actors (e.g., numbskull), the Aarne–Thompson Index does not provide much help in identifying and classifying the modern joke.

A more granular classification system used widely by folklorists and cultural anthropologists is the Thompson Motif Index, which separates tales into their individual story elements. This system enables jokes to be classified according to individual motifs included in the narrative: actors, items and incidents. It does not provide a system to classify the text by more than one element at a time while at the same time making it theoretically possible to classify the same text under multiple motifs. [68]

The Thompson Motif Index has spawned further specialised motif indices, each of which focuses on a single aspect of one subset of jokes. A sampling of just a few of these specialised indices have been listed under other motif indices. Here one can select an index for medieval Spanish folk narratives, [69] another index for linguistic verbal jokes, [70] and a third one for sexual humour. [71] To assist the researcher with this increasingly confusing situation, there are also multiple bibliographies of indices [72] as well as a how-to guide on creating your own index. [73]

Several difficulties have been identified with these systems of identifying oral narratives according to either tale types or story elements. [74] A first major problem is their hierarchical organisation one element of the narrative is selected as the major element, while all other parts are arrayed subordinate to this. A second problem with these systems is that the listed motifs are not qualitatively equal actors, items and incidents are all considered side-by-side. [75] And because incidents will always have at least one actor and usually have an item, most narratives can be ordered under multiple headings. This leads to confusion about both where to order an item and where to find it. A third significant problem is that the "excessive prudery" common in the middle of the 20th century means that obscene, sexual and scatological elements were regularly ignored in many of the indices. [76]

The folklorist Robert Georges has summed up the concerns with these existing classification systems:

…Yet what the multiplicity and variety of sets and subsets reveal is that folklore [jokes] not only takes many forms, but that it is also multifaceted, with purpose, use, structure, content, style, and function all being relevant and important. Any one or combination of these multiple and varied aspects of a folklore example [such as jokes] might emerge as dominant in a specific situation or for a particular inquiry. [77]

It has proven difficult to organise all different elements of a joke into a multi-dimensional classification system which could be of real value in the study and evaluation of this (primarily oral) complex narrative form.

The General Theory of Verbal Humour or GTVH, developed by the linguists Victor Raskin and Salvatore Attardo, attempts to do exactly this. This classification system was developed specifically for jokes and later expanded to include longer types of humorous narratives. [78] Six different aspects of the narrative, labelled Knowledge Resources or KRs, can be evaluated largely independently of each other, and then combined into a concatenated classification label. These six KRs of the joke structure include:

  1. Script Opposition (SO) references the script opposition included in Raskin's SSTH. This includes, among others, themes such as real (unreal), actual (non-actual), normal (abnormal), possible (impossible).
  2. Logical Mechanism (LM) refers to the mechanism which connects the different scripts in the joke. These can range from a simple verbal technique like a pun to more complex LMs such as faulty logic or false analogies.
  3. Situation (SI) can include objects, activities, instruments, props needed to tell the story.
  4. Target (TA) identifies the actor(s) who become the "butt" of the joke. This labelling serves to develop and solidify stereotypes of ethnic groups, professions, etc.
  5. Narrative strategy (NS) addresses the narrative format of the joke, as either a simple narrative, a dialogue, or a riddle. It attempts to classify the different genres and subgenres of verbal humour. In a subsequent study Attardo expands the NS to include oral and printed humorous narratives of any length, not just jokes. [78]
  6. Language (LA) "…contains all the information necessary for the verbalization of a text. It is responsible for the exact wording …and for the placement of the functional elements." [79]

As development of the GTVH progressed, a hierarchy of the KRs was established to partially restrict the options for lower level KRs depending on the KRs defined above them. For example, a lightbulb joke (SI) will always be in the form of a riddle (NS). Outside of these restrictions, the KRs can create a multitude of combinations, enabling a researcher to select jokes for analysis which contain only one or two defined KRs. It also allows for an evaluation of the similarity or dissimilarity of jokes depending on the similarity of their labels. "The GTVH presents itself as a mechanism … of generating [or describing] an infinite number of jokes by combining the various values that each parameter can take. … Descriptively, to analyze a joke in the GTVH consists of listing the values of the 6 KRs (with the caveat that TA and LM may be empty)." [80] This classification system provides a functional multi-dimensional label for any joke, and indeed any verbal humour.

Many academic disciplines lay claim to the study of jokes (and other forms of humour) as within their purview. Fortunately there are enough jokes, good, bad and worse, to go around. Unfortunately the studies of jokes from each of the interested disciplines brings to mind the tale of the blind men and an elephant where the observations, although accurate reflections of their own competent methodological inquiry, frequently fail to grasp the beast in its entirety. This attests to the joke as a traditional narrative form which is indeed complex, concise and complete in and of itself. [81] It requires a "multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and cross-disciplinary field of inquiry" [82] to truly appreciate these nuggets of cultural insight. [note 6] [83]


Sigmund Freud was one of the first modern scholars to recognise jokes as an important object of investigation. [84] In his 1905 study Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious [85] Freud describes the social nature of humour and illustrates his text with many examples of contemporary Viennese jokes. [86] His work is particularly noteworthy in this context because Freud distinguishes in his writings between jokes, humour and the comic. [87] These are distinctions which become easily blurred in many subsequent studies where everything funny tends to be gathered under the umbrella term of "humour", making for a much more diffuse discussion.

Since the publication of Freud's study, psychologists have continued to explore humour and jokes in their quest to explain, predict and control an individual's "sense of humour". Why do people laugh? Why do people find something funny? Can jokes predict character, or vice versa, can character predict the jokes an individual laughs at? What is a "sense of humour"? A current review of the popular magazine Psychology Today lists over 200 articles discussing various aspects of humour in psychological jargon the subject area has become both an emotion to measure and a tool to use in diagnostics and treatment. A new psychological assessment tool, the Values in Action Inventory developed by the American psychologists Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman includes humour (and playfulness) as one of the core character strengths of an individual. As such, it could be a good predictor of life satisfaction. [88] For psychologists, it would be useful to measure both how much of this strength an individual has and how it can be measurably increased.

A 2007 survey of existing tools to measure humour identified more than 60 psychological measurement instruments. [89] These measurement tools use many different approaches to quantify humour along with its related states and traits. There are tools to measure an individual's physical response by their smile the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) is one of several tools used to identify any one of multiple types of smiles. [90] Or the laugh can be measured to calculate the funniness response of an individual multiple types of laughter have been identified. It must be stressed here that both smiles and laughter are not always a response to something funny. In trying to develop a measurement tool, most systems use "jokes and cartoons" as their test materials. However, because no two tools use the same jokes, and across languages this would not be feasible, how does one determine that the assessment objects are comparable? Moving on, whom does one ask to rate the sense of humour of an individual? Does one ask the person themselves, an impartial observer, or their family, friends and colleagues? Furthermore, has the current mood of the test subjects been considered someone with a recent death in the family might not be much prone to laughter. Given the plethora of variants revealed by even a superficial glance at the problem, [91] it becomes evident that these paths of scientific inquiry are mined with problematic pitfalls and questionable solutions.

The psychologist Willibald Ruch [de] has been very active in the research of humour. He has collaborated with the linguists Raskin and Attardo on their General Theory of Verbal Humour (GTVH) classification system. Their goal is to empirically test both the six autonomous classification types (KRs) and the hierarchical ordering of these KRs. Advancement in this direction would be a win-win for both fields of study linguistics would have empirical verification of this multi-dimensional classification system for jokes, and psychology would have a standardised joke classification with which they could develop verifiably comparable measurement tools.


"The linguistics of humor has made gigantic strides forward in the last decade and a half and replaced the psychology of humor as the most advanced theoretical approach to the study of this important and universal human faculty." [92] This recent statement by one noted linguist and humour researcher describes, from his perspective, contemporary linguistic humour research. Linguists study words, how words are strung together to build sentences, how sentences create meaning which can be communicated from one individual to another, how our interaction with each other using words creates discourse. Jokes have been defined above as oral narrative in which words and sentences are engineered to build toward a punchline. The linguist's question is: what exactly makes the punchline funny? This question focuses on how the words used in the punchline create humour, in contrast to the psychologist's concern (see above) with the audience response to the punchline. The assessment of humour by psychologists "is made from the individual's perspective e.g. the phenomenon associated with responding to or creating humor and not a description of humor itself." [93] Linguistics, on the other hand, endeavours to provide a precise description of what makes a text funny. [94]

Two major new linguistic theories have been developed and tested within the last decades. The first was advanced by Victor Raskin in "Semantic Mechanisms of Humor", published 1985. [95] While being a variant on the more general concepts of the incongruity theory of humour, it is the first theory to identify its approach as exclusively linguistic. The Script-based Semantic Theory of Humour (SSTH) begins by identifying two linguistic conditions which make a text funny. It then goes on to identify the mechanisms involved in creating the punchline. This theory established the semantic/pragmatic foundation of humour as well as the humour competence of speakers. [note 7] [96]

Several years later the SSTH was incorporated into a more expansive theory of jokes put forth by Raskin and his colleague Salvatore Attardo. In the General Theory of Verbal Humour, the SSTH was relabelled as a Logical Mechanism (LM) (referring to the mechanism which connects the different linguistic scripts in the joke) and added to five other independent Knowledge Resources (KR). Together these six KRs could now function as a multi-dimensional descriptive label for any piece of humorous text.

Linguistics has developed further methodological tools which can be applied to jokes: discourse analysis and conversation analysis of joking. Both of these subspecialties within the field focus on "naturally occurring" language use, i.e. the analysis of real (usually recorded) conversations. One of these studies has already been discussed above, where Harvey Sacks describes in detail the sequential organisation in the telling a single joke. [97] Discourse analysis emphasises the entire context of social joking, the social interaction which cradles the words.

Folklore and anthropology

Folklore and cultural anthropology have perhaps the strongest claims on jokes as belonging to their bailiwick. Jokes remain one of the few remaining forms of traditional folk literature transmitted orally in western cultures. Identified as one of the "simple forms" of oral literature by André Jolles in 1930, [3] they have been collected and studied since there were folklorists and anthropologists abroad in the lands. As a genre they were important enough at the beginning of the 20th century to be included under their own heading in the Aarne–Thompson index first published in 1910: Anecdotes and jokes.

Beginning in the 1960s, cultural researchers began to expand their role from collectors and archivists of "folk ideas" [83] to a more active role of interpreters of cultural artefacts. One of the foremost scholars active during this transitional time was the folklorist Alan Dundes. He started asking questions of tradition and transmission with the key observation that "No piece of folklore continues to be transmitted unless it means something, even if neither the speaker nor the audience can articulate what that meaning might be." [98] In the context of jokes, this then becomes the basis for further research. Why is the joke told right now? Only in this expanded perspective is an understanding of its meaning to the participants possible.

This questioning resulted in a blossoming of monographs to explore the significance of many joke cycles. What is so funny about absurd nonsense elephant jokes? Why make light of dead babies? In an article on contemporary German jokes about Auschwitz and the Holocaust, Dundes justifies this research: "Whether one finds Auschwitz jokes funny or not is not an issue. This material exists and should be recorded. Jokes are always an important barometer of the attitudes of a group. The jokes exist and they obviously must fill some psychic need for those individuals who tell them and those who listen to them." [99] A stimulating generation of new humour theories flourishes like mushrooms in the undergrowth: Elliott Oring's theoretical discussions on "appropriate ambiguity" and Amy Carrell's hypothesis of an "audience-based theory of verbal humor (1993)" to name just a few.

In his book Humor and Laughter: An Anthropological Approach, [35] the anthropologist Mahadev Apte presents a solid case for his own academic perspective. [100] "Two axioms underlie my discussion, namely, that humor is by and large culture based and that humor can be a major conceptual and methodological tool for gaining insights into cultural systems." Apte goes on to call for legitimising the field of humour research as "humorology" this would be a field of study incorporating an interdisciplinary character of humour studies. [101]

While the label "humorology" has yet to become a household word, great strides are being made in the international recognition of this interdisciplinary field of research. The International Society for Humor Studies was founded in 1989 with the stated purpose to "promote, stimulate and encourage the interdisciplinary study of humour to support and cooperate with local, national, and international organizations having similar purposes to organize and arrange meetings and to issue and encourage publications concerning the purpose of the society." It also publishes Humor: International Journal of Humor Research and holds yearly conferences to promote and inform its speciality.

Physiology of laughter

In 1872, Charles Darwin published one of the first "comprehensive and in many ways remarkably accurate description of laughter in terms of respiration, vocalization, facial action and gesture and posture" (Laughter). [102] In this early study Darwin raises further questions about who laughs and why they laugh the myriad responses since then illustrates the complexities of this behaviour. To understand laughter in humans and other primates, the science of gelotology (from the Greek gelos, meaning laughter) has been established it is the study of laughter and its effects on the body from both a psychological and physiological perspective. While jokes can provoke laughter, laughter cannot be used as a one-to-one marker of jokes because there are multiple stimuli to laughter, humour being just one of them. The other six causes of laughter listed are: social context, ignorance, anxiety, derision, acting apology, and tickling. [103] As such, the study of laughter is a secondary albeit entertaining perspective in an understanding of jokes.

Computational humour

Computational humour is a new field of study which uses computers to model humour [104] it bridges the disciplines of computational linguistics and artificial intelligence. A primary ambition of this field is to develop computer programs which can both generate a joke and recognise a text snippet as a joke. Early programming attempts have dealt almost exclusively with punning because this lends itself to simple straightforward rules. These primitive programs display no intelligence instead they work off a template with a finite set of pre-defined punning options upon which to build.

Political Stability and Veto Players

Every government seeks stability, and without institutions, a democratic political system simply cannot work. Systems need rules to be able to select political actors in the nomination process. The leaders must have fundamental skills about how the political institutions work and there must be rules about how authoritative decisions are to be made. The institutions constrain political actors by punishing deviations from institutionally-prescribed behaviors and rewarding appropriate behavior.

Institutions can resolve collection action dilemmas—for example, all governments have a collective interest in reducing carbon emissions, but for individual actors, making a choice for the greater good makes no good sense from an economic standpoint. So, it must be up to the federal government to establish enforceable sanctions.

But the main purpose of a political institution is to create and maintain stability. That purpose is made viable by what American political scientist George Tsebelis calls "veto players." Tsebelis argues that the number of veto players—people who must agree on a change before it can go forward—makes a significant difference in how easily changes are made.   Significant departures from the status quo are impossible when there are too many veto players, with specific ideological distances among them.

Agenda setters are those veto players who can say "take it or leave it," but they must make proposals to the other veto players that will be acceptable to them.

What Is the Purpose of the Golden Gate Bridge?

The purpose of the Golden Gate Bridge is to connect San Francisco to Marin County, Calif. Before the bridge opened in 1937, the only practical route between what is now Marin County and San Francisco was by ferry across San Francisco Bay. At the time, San Francisco was the largest U.S. city reached primarily by ferry.

Ferry service across the bay began around 1820. By the late 1920s, the Golden Gate Ferry Company was the world's largest ferry operation. San Francisco's growth rate before the bridge was built was lower than the national average because the city lacked an easy route to other cities around the bay.

Some experts believed that it was impossible to build a bridge across the bay, which is 6,700 feet wide. The bay had strong tides and currents, and water reached a depth of 372 feet at the center. Some experts felt that the frequent strong winds and fog prevented building and operating the bridge.

In 1933, construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began. Engineer Joseph Strauss designed the bridge. The bridge took four years, thousands of workers and $35 million to build. In May 1937, the bridge opened with 18,000 people walking across it. The following day, it was opened to traffic.

What is the Structural Analysis?

Monalisa Patel is a Structural Engineer who has earned her Master’s degree (ME) from the L.J College of Engineering and Technology Ahmadabad in 2018. She is an Engineer (Civil) at SDCPL – Gharpedia. Helping people to solve their queries about construction is her passion. Apart from being blogger, she also participates in structural design at SDCPL. She is reachable on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram & Facebook.

Structural engineering has existed since humans first started to construct their own house. Structural engineers design, and assess structure to ensure that they are efficient and stable. Structural analysis is a comprehensive determination to assure that the deformations due to load in a structure will be satisfactory and lower than the permissible limits, and failure of structure will never occur.

It is a method by which we find out how a structure or a member of a structure behaves when subjected to different loads. The results of the analysis are used to verify the structure&rsquos strength for its uses. Structural analysis is thus a key part of structural engineering.

The process to determine the response or behaviour of a structure under some specified loads or combinations of loads is known as structural analysis. Response means to find out support reactions, bending moment, rotation, stresses, strains, shear force, and deflection that, the particular member would undergo due to the application of different types of loads. Analysis of a structure involves its study from the viewpoint of its strength, stiffness, stability, and vibration.

For a structural engineer to start a structural design, he/she must have the loads, or forces and moments that a particular member and the structure as a whole have to resist. Unless there are determined the design cannot start. Hence structure analysis is condition precedent to structural analysis.

The structure we are going to build is assumed to have some specific lifespan. We are going to design it in such a way that it must be capable of taking all applied load (dead as well as live) without failure during its lifespan. So, before the design, we have to determine the behaviour of structure under different load conditions. The structure is analyzed for different load combination like gravity load, live load, wind load, earthquake load apart from effects of nature and environment etc.

The Future of DNA

The future of DNA has great potential. As researchers and scientists continue to advance what we know about the complexities of DNA and the insights it codes for, we can imagine a world with less and better-managed disease, longer life spans, and a personalized view of medicine that’s specifically applicable to individuals rather than the population as a whole.

DNA insights are already enabling the diagnosis and treatment of genetic diseases. Science is also hopeful that medicine will advance to be able to leverage the power of our own cells to fight disease. For example, gene therapy is designed to introduce genetic material into cells to compensate for abnormal genes or to make a therapeutically beneficial protein.

Researchers also continue to use DNA sequencing technology to learn more about everything from combating infectious disease outbreaks to improving nutritional security.

Ultimately, DNA research will accelerate breaking the mold of the one-size-fits-all approach to medicine. Every new discovery in our understanding of DNA lends to further advancement in the idea of precision medicine, a relatively new way doctors are approaching healthcare through the use of genetic and molecular information to guide their approach to medicine. With precision or personalized medicine, interventions take into consideration the unique biology of the patient and are tailored individually to each patient, rather than being based on the predicted response for all patients. Using genetics and a holistic view of individual genetics, lifestyle, and environment on a case-by-case basis, doctors are better able to not only predict accurate prevention strategies, but also suggest more effective treatment options.

We’ve come leaps and bounds from where we were in terms of our understanding of DNA 150 years ago. But still, there is much to learn. And with the potential that a deeper understanding of DNA will improve human health and quality of life across our world, no doubt, the research will continue. A full understanding of DNA of and between all living things could one day contribute to solving problems like world hunger, disease prevention, and fighting climate change. The potential truly is unlimited, and to say the least, extremely exciting.

Reading List return to top ▲

Burns, John, editor, with the staff of HABS/HAER, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Recording Historic Structures. Washington, D.C.: The American Institute of Architects Press, 1989.

Jandl, H. Ward. Preservation Brief 18. "Rehabilitating Interiors in Historic Buildings: Identifying and Preserving Character-Defining Elements." Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1988.

McDonald, Jr., Travis C. Preservation Brief 35. "Understanding Old Buildings: The Process of Architectural Investigation." Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1994.

Nelson, Lee H., FAIA. Preservation Brief 17. "Architectural Character: Identifying the Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid to Preserving Their Character." Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, 1988.

The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Preservation Assistance Division, 1992.

Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Architectural and Engineering Documentation. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, 1983.

Slaton, Deborah, and Alan W. O'Bright, guest editors. Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) Bulletin XXVII, no. 1 (1997). Special issue on historic structures reports.

Watch the video: What is the Purpose of Life? - Sadhguru (June 2022).


  1. Shayten

    And what would we do without your brilliant idea

  2. Abdul-Jabbar

    What words ... science fiction

  3. Girflet

    If you look closely, you can find some interesting points here ...

  4. Terr

    It's always nice to read smart people. Thanks!

  5. Aart


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