The Hungarian joke and its environs
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Hungarian humour went through significant changes in the 20th century. Though the urban middle-class way of living and culture had developed by the early 20th century, they had to coexist all over the country as well as in ethnic Hungarian territories abroad with the traditions of rural culture and folklore until the middle of the century (and, in locked-up areas, till the end of the century). Consequently, Hungarian humour is made up of two important layers of folklore: popular funny stories that have been developing among the peasantry for centuries, and jokes, a genre that emerged from urban oral culture in the last third of the 20th century. The dualism of folk-based and urban culture has been a decisive feature of Hungarian culture during the entire 20th century. Thus the question arises: more than a hundred years later, are there still any fundamental differences between the two types of humour in terms of their ways of thinking or their subject matter, or can we regard Hungarian humour as a unity? In this paper, we compare the thematic categories of popular and urban humour based on the analysis of two large collections. Next, we examine the popularity of major joke categories in Internet sources. Finally, we offer a brief introduction to the contemporary stock of Hungarian jokes by thematic groups.
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