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Humour a powerful tool to address serious issues
2017-12-06


 Description: Michelle Malan  Tags: Michelle Malan  

Michelle Malan received a Dean’s medal from the Faculty of Humanities at the mid-year
graduation ceremonies for her Master’s degree.
Photo: Jóhann Thormählen

People, in most contexts, are more open to engage in serious issues such as politics and economics if it is presented in a humorous way. This makes humour a very powerful tool to address burning issues in our society.

These are some of the findings in the research of Michelle Malan, a part time lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and Language Practice at the University of the Free State (UFS). 

How comedians and cartoonists use humour
The basic premise of her research, titled The Intersemiotic Translation of Humour, was to see how comedians and cartoonists take news stories and translate it into humour. She received the Dean’s medal for the best Master’s degree in the Faculty of the Humanities at the mid-year graduation ceremonies in June 2017.

“More specifically, I explored how the medium constrains potential meaning-making in cases of intersemiotic translation in which humour is constructed,” she says.

Cartoon vs a comic television show
According to her the medium in which a message is given, in this case comedy, definitely influences how one is able to form meaning from it. “For instance, a cartoon (visual medium) would have a different meaning-making potential than a comic television show.”

She also notes that one must understand the workings of humour, which includes the mediums in which it is presented, so that the intended humour does not do more harm than good. 

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