THE CHARACTERS OF ESTONIAN THREE NATION JOKES (1964–2012)
The present article gives a statistical overview of the characters of Estonian three nation jokes throughout three periods: the Soviet period, the 1990s, and the 21st century. The following subtopics are discussed: 1) The Zipfian distribution of parameters of our joke corpus that complicates text- and type-based statistical analyses (so-called “Zipf’s curse”); 2) The general temporal dynamics of the material and changing of the frequencies of ethnic characters through the three periods of observation; 3) The correlation between the “sequential number” (position) of the character in the text and its function: changes in frequencies of different ethnic characters as “initialisers”, “follow-uppers”, and “punch line-makers” throughout the three periods; the salience of the Estonian as an ethnic figure in the 21st century; exceptional texts with more or fewer than three characters and, related to it, problems of the joke structure (syntagmatic triad versus paradigmatic-parallelistic chain, etc.).
Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, 51003 Tartu, Estonia
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