Children's understanding of linguistic humour: An aspect of metalinguistic awareness

Orit Ashkenazi, Dorit Ravid*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The appreciation of linguistic humour is related to social, cognitive, and linguistic development, and requires metalinguistic abilities. The current study was designed to test the understanding and appreciation of linguistic humour in Hebrew, a language rich in morphological structures. One hundred and twenty one native speakers of Hebrew in six age groups (first grade to adults) were asked to explain jokes and riddles requiring phonological, morphological, orthographic, and syntactic awareness. Subjects' responses were analyzed in terms of (a) linguistic understanding, and (b) non-linguistic humour appreciation. A clear developmental trend was found in subjects' ability to understand and explain the linguistic sources of the jokes and riddles, reflecting a change in metalinguistic abilities and insight with increasing age, in which linguistic knowledge becomes progressively more explicit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-387
Number of pages21
JournalCahiers de Psychologie Cognitive
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1998


  • Hebrew
  • Linguistic humour
  • Metalinguistic awareness


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