Humour in Linguistics

Statistics jokes

This site contains a collection of jokes about the world of statistics and statisticians. It was presented the Golden Web Award 2003-2004 by the International Association of Web Masters and Designers. http://my.ilstu.edu/~gcramsey/Gallery.html

Humour in Linguistics

Many years ago I presented a lecture, Humour in Linguistics. The updated version is now available. A lot of the humour is related to ESP and linguistics, so take a look. File: humourlecture.pdf

Many of the jokes sound much better than when they are read - especially the early ones on intonation. So check out the sound files:

All Sound files, zipped up (9MB). File: humour.zip

          Download to a new folder and unzip. Then select the file “playlist.m3u” in Media Player, or better still, my favourite player for audio or video, VLC. www.videolan.org  Clicking on “playlist.m3u” loads the playlist then the individual files, and you can skip between the sections/files at will.

Separate files - not zipped. Click on the links to download what you want.  Playlist

          01- Introduction                    

           02- Phonetics

          03- Sexist language

          04- Morphology

          05- Aptronyms

          06- Backronyms

          07- Bizarre ideas

          08- Pragmatics

          09- Poetry

          10- Famous names

          11- Synonyms

          12- Social Constructivism

          13- Reasoning

          14- TEFL

          15- Adminstratium

          16- A medical joke



So science is the same as legend. That is official The evidence was first published on 29 April 1995 by the New Scientist. Social constructivists have won. All my ravings elsewhere are to no avail. With great shame, but full honesty, I publish the skeleton in my cupboard. I have the dubious honour of being the first to provide and publish this conclusive piece of evidence.  Elsewhere I have argued vigorously against Social Constructivism, yet it was I who first published the fact which shows that science is a synonym for legend! In other words, Science is a synonym for fiction: science is socially constructed afterall!

In the spirit of high ethical research standards, unpleasant evidence must be declared and not ignored. And here I present the evidence that I do not like to admit.


Readers were asked to play around with a computer thesaurus and to find a series of synonyms leading to opposites. I  discovered the following chain:



(Lowe 1995) (New Scientist Feedback 29 April 1995)


Despite all efforts to the contrary, Social Constructivism has clearly won. From now on everything belonging to science belongs to the world of myth and legend.

Of course, there is a logical flaw in this argument. If science is fiction, then the experiment that conclusively demonstrated this fact is in itself fiction. The experiment itself must be constructed, therefore how can it be relied upon?


Urgent news: Entry to Britain

New rules for application for a visa, for residency, or for nationality

In pursuance of government policy to improve politeness and to insist on common standards of good behaviour, the following rules apply with immediate effect. All applicants for a visa, for residency, or for British Nationality must pass a test of the following.

1.  The applicant will be given a slice of buttered toast with Marmite. A film will be taken, and any hesitation or expression of dislike of this British delicacy will be noted.

2. The applicant will be given a whole mug (not cup) of British tea. This may be strong or weak, according to preference, but must include milk and no sugar. The mug will be extremely hot, since lukewarm drinks and food are an anathema to the British. The tea will be drunk, with appropriate expressions of pleasure, in a time not exceeding five minutes.

3. The applicant will demonstrate intimate knowledge of how to set a table, paying special attention to the cutlery and where they are placed. A normal meal requires a knife, fork, and spoon. There are several permitted arrangements, but the usual one is the fork on the left side (not the right) and the knife on the right (not the left). The spoon can either be on the right of the knife, or placed horizontally at the head of the plate.

4. The applicant will use the fork correctly when eating peas. Please remember that a fork is not a spoon, and not a shovel. The standard (international) and only polite method is:

    a.  Beginner. With the points downwards to firmly skewer the

       peas that they cannot fall off, then lift the fork to the mouth

       without turning the fork over

    b. Advanced. Collect the peas on the outer surface of the fork

        and convey them to the mouth without dropping them.


The Italian Eating Problem

For centuries, the Italians have had a real eating problem. As many people know, they eat spaghetti with a spoon in the left hand and a fork in the right hand. This creates several problems.

1. The tools are held totally un-naturally. The fork belongs in the

   left hand, and the spoon (or knife) belongs in the right hand.  

  Therefore to exchange hands for the spoon and fork is going

  against centuries of civilisation and natural habit.

    2. The Italian way means that meat and other items that require cutting cannot be eaten at  the same time. Their extremely awkward solution is to have a second plate for meat and

   vegetables. Which means that people are forced to eat a whole plate of boring spaghetti before they can change back to normal tools and taste the interesting food.

The obvious solution

Put the spaghetti with the meat and vegetables. Retain the correct use of fork and knife. Hold the fork in the LEFT hand and the knife in the RIGHT, as usual, and learn to twist the fork against the blade of the knife. When you feel like eating something else on the plate, use the knife and fork in the usual way.

This solution is hereby placed in the public domain. Henceforth, no patent or copyright or trademark or any other form of protectionism can be applied to this obvious solution.

But please remember, you first read about this solution to the self-made Italian problem through this site.