“Every linguistic sign is located on two axes: the axis of simultaneity and that of succession.”*

*Roman Jakobson. (Wikipedia) “Through his decisive influence on Claude Lévi-Strauss and Roland Barthes, among others, Jakobson became a pivotal figure in the adaptation of structural analysis to disciplines beyond linguistics, including philosophy, anthropology, and literary theory.”

From Wordplay and Metalinguistic / Metadiscursive Reflection (2018), by Thomas Kullmann:

“Communicative utterances which involve wordplay violate the Gricean maxims and evidently privilege the “metalingual” function (Jakobson) of language over the conative, emotive and referential ones. The prominence of wordplay in literary works like Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (set at a prototypical Renaissance court) and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (which appears to depict the Victorian drawing-room world from a child’s point of view), however, suggests that wordplay might have a communicative and social function which is not quite covered by Jakobson’s categories. In Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice and Benedict demonstrate their courtly superiority by using wordplay to provoke and tease their interlocutors. Much Ado thus testifies to the use of wordplay as a courtly practice, as outlined theoretically in Castiglione’s Courtier, in which facezie belong to the conversational skills an ideal courtier should possess.

The functions of wordplay obviously lie in a display of wit, in showing a mastery of language and in the creation of an atmosphere of humour and playfulness. Jonson’s Cynthia’s Revels, by contrast, features uncourtly uses of wordplay, such as ridiculing other characters’ courtly ineptitude. In Carroll’s Alice books, instances of wordplay in the speeches made by the Wonderland creatures constitute a major challenge for the heroine and the reader. In mastering this challenge, Alice displays and develops her social skills. As can be seen by the example of wordplay, Victorian drawing-room culture seems to imitate Renaissance courtliness, with children admitted as ‘courtiers.’ In these ‘courtly’ communities, metalinguistic awareness as displayed by a mastery of words and of wordplay allows initiates to keep their ground in an environment whose internal rules are terrifyingly complex.”

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