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Experts from 37 countries will be brought together at the UA International Conference on Verbal Humour

Artificial intelligence, gender, language education, colloquial differences of men and women are some themes of plenary lectures

Stand-up comedians such as Raquel Sastre and David Guapo will perform at the event





Alicante, 21 October 2019

Humour and irony are universal languages. Their relevance goes beyond daily use. Science is also striving to understand them. In order to share knowledge and approaches on the latest research on the linguistics of humour and of creating new research networks among the participants in the meeting, the University of Alicante research group in Irony and Humour in Spanish (GRIALE) has organised the International Conference on Verbal Humour (CIHV). The event will be run on 23, 24 and 25 October at the Faculty of Arts main conference hall. UA research group GRIALE has been researching on humour and irony since 2002 under the supervision of UA Professor in Spanish Language Leonor Ruiz Gurillo.

The world's leading authorities in verbal humour research will meet at the UA. Five plenary lecturers will be working on humour and irony, each from a different field. In addition, the conference welcomes the participation of authors of more than a hundred scientific papers from almost forty different countries, bringing together the most relevant experts on the international scene. As reported by Ruiz Gurillo, wo thirds of the papers will be delivered in English since most of the participants in the conference come from abroad. Participants come from 37 different countries: France, Greece, Russia, Estonia, United Kingdom, Morocco, Algeria, China, United States, Poland, Colombia, Mexico, Australia, Portugal, Argentina, Cuba, Turkey, Israel, Chile, Germany, Uruguay, Turkey, Czech Republic, Sweden, Ireland, Romania, Ukraine, Jordan, Belgium, Costa Rica, Pakistan, Brazil, Indonesia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Egypt, and Spain. This international conference is the final touch of two research projects, GENHUMID and GRIALE Observa, and also the continuation of the FIGURKID project.

The conference has been organised around ten theme panels: Humour, gender and identity; Linguistic elements of humour; humour and acquisition; humour and textual genres; humour and pragmatic inferences; humour and language teaching; humour and irony; humour and digital discourses; humour and translation; and humour and taboo. Scientific communications focus on research topics as varied as emojis and humour in instant messaging conversations, blogs and humour, humour in economics, and humour and advertising discourse. The programme will be followed by social events.


Five top-notch plenary lecturers

The opening lecture “Overdoing gender and impoliteness in performing female comic figures on German TV” will be delivered by Helga Kotthoff, from the University of Freiburg, on 23 October at 10.30 am. Kotthoff will deal with gender and discourtesy in comics in Germany. The researcher has focused her studies on humour in conversation and the relationship of humour and gender, that is, how gender identity is reflected in humour. In this sense, there is a group of female comedians in some countries who are trying to show that they are doing a different kind of humour, as stated by  Leonor Ruiz  Tony Veale, from the University College Dublin, is an expert in artificial intelligence (AI) and has worked with figurative language. He will focus on how to tell the machine what common expressions in one language have a different meaning or use. Veale develops algorithms to train the machine to find a context with humour. Nancy Bell, from the Washington State University, will be in charge of the lecture “Humour and Humanization: Language Education for the Anthropocene” on the same 24 at 6.30 pm. Nancy Bell works on language education and humour, humour in conversation and also in the teaching of humour in a foreign language. Texas A&M University-Commerce Professor Salvatore Attardo is a promoter of the study of verbal humour. He has previously worked at the University of Youngstown and has collaborated with GRIALE on several projects. Attardo will give the closing speech "Toward a theory of humour performance” on 25 October at 11 am. UA Professor of Spanish Language and Director of GRIALE research group Leonor Ruiz Gurillo will focus on conversational humour of men and women. What men laugh at and what women laugh at. There are differences in spontaneous conversation; women are more prone to solidarity and men are more aggressive in using humour. On 23 October at 4.15 pm, she will focus her speech on "Co-constructing humour in colloquial interactions: women, men and vice versa".

UA President Manuel Palomar will open the conference on 23 October at 9:30 am with the attendance of Vice President for Research and Knowledge Transfer Amparo Navarro Faure, and Faculty of Arts Dean Juan Francisco Mesa Sanz.

The closing ceremony, on 25 October at 4.45 pm, will be addressed by Vice President for Culture, Sports and Languages Carles Cortés, with the participation of UA Institute for Gender Studies Research Director (IUIEG) Helena Establier Pérez, and  José Joaquín Martínez Egido, Director of the Department of Spanish Studies, General Linguistics and Theory of Literature. General Linguistics and Theory of Literature.



The aim of the cultural programme is "to be able to listen to those who make humour


Exhibition: Social Humour Anthology

Cartoonist Enrique Pérez Penedo will inaugurate the UA exhibition ‘Social Humour Anthology’.on Wednesday, 23 October at 1.30 pm, in the Faculty of Arts Aifos exhibition hall (building No. 3). The exhibition includes a selection of the works exhibited in the 19 previous editions of the UA Social Humour Fair and Spanish Cartoonist Association (FECO Spain). There, they claim the relevance of humour as a tool for reflection and social responsibility in the face of problems such as immigration, censorship, human rights or political corruption, among others. This collection underlines humour as a resource to boost awareness, as a vehicle for observing complex problems that need the strength of a smile to face them to their fullest extent.


Talk among comedians and stand-up comedies night at the UA Auditorium

On Wednesday 23 October, at 7 19 hours, the University of Alicante Auditorium will host an activity performed by Spanish stand-up comedians. Firstly, there will be a chat-interview with Patricia Sornosa, Patricia Espejo, David Guapo and Dani Alés. Afterwards, Valeria Ros, Virginia Riezu, Raquel Sastre and Susi Caramelo will deliver their performances, presented by Dani Alés.

Further information:

Tickets cost €10 and are available at Compás bookshop, (online), and at the UA Auditorium one hour before the start time.




Panel discussion on ‘the limits of humour’

The panel discussion on the limits of humour will feature the participation of cartoonists, stand-up comedians, scriptwriters and television programmers on Thursday 24 October at 12.15 pm. Marta González de Vega (comedian, scriptwriter and actress), Kap (cartoonist), Miguel Sánchez-Romero (producer of audiovisual comedy programmes), Enrique Pérez Penedo (cartoonist), Raquel Sastre (comic actress, stand-up comdedian and actress) and Dani Alés will be part of this panel.




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