Polish highlander jokes and their targets


logical mechanisms
comic script

How to Cite

Chłopicki, W., & Brzozowska, D. (2017). Polish highlander jokes and their targets. The European Journal of Humour Research, 5(4), 67–84. https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2017.5.4.chlopicki


The aim of the paper is to show the characteristic features of jokes about Polish highlanders and analyse them to identify the comic script of a highlander. This group of jokes is treated as a good illustration of Christie Davies’s ethnic jokes theory concerning witty versus stupid and centre versus periphery oppositions, as well as mind over matter in general. A particular type of reasoning and the use of regional dialect are distinctive features of the joke targets that make it possible to perceive these jokes as a culturally specific phenomenon. The head shepherd (called baca) is the key character of the cycle. He is a very down-to-earth person, who is proud of his practical wisdom and has a very relaxed attitude to life. His lifestyle is usually contrasted with that of ceper – often a tourist – treated as a kind of intruder who asks stupid questions and does not know how to appreciate life and what really matters in it. The jokes about highlanders are analysed within the paradigm of General Theory of Verbal Humor, and particularly its reasoning and reversal Logical Mechanisms. Even though Christie Davies treated the Logical Mechanism with some scepticism, claiming it is of no use in the GTVH (Davies 2004, 2011b), he would not probably mind the logic of highlanders’ utterances and behaviour being analysed. We believe he may even have enjoyed that.    




Arons, D. (2012). Jokes and the Linguistic Mind. New York: Routledge.

Attardo, S. (2001). Humorous Texts. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Attardo, S. & Raskin, V. (1991). ‘Script theory revis(it)ed: Joke similarity and joke representation model’, Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 4 (3/4), pp. 347–411.

Davies, C. (1978). Welsh Jokes. Cardiff: John Jones.

Davies, C. (2000). ‘The savage style of Jaroslav Hašek: The Good Soldier Švejk as a politically incorrect comic masterpiece’, Stylistyka 9, pp. 301–315.

Davies, C. (2000a). ‘Mr Polly and the Good Soldier Švejk; a contrast in style and social context’, in Gajda, S. & Brzozowska, D. (eds.), Świat humoru, Opole: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Opolskiego, pp. 447–459.

Davies, C. (2001). ‘The humorous use of the contrast between standard educated English and local dialect in Scottish jokes’, Stylistyka 10, pp.111–124.

Davies, C. (2002). The Mirth of Nations, New Brunswick NJ, Transaction.

Davies, C. (2004). ‘Victor Raskin on jokes’, Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 17 (4), pp. 373–380.

Davies, C. (2011a). Jokes and Targets. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Davies, C. (2011b). ‘Logical mechanisms: A critique’, Humor: International Journal of Humor Research 24 (2), pp. 159–165.

Davies, C. (2016). ‘How jokes change and maybe changed: Simplifying, transforming and revealing’, Półrocznik Językoznawczy Tertium. Tertium Linguistic Journal 1 (1&2), www.journal.tertium.edu.pl.

Gotówka, A. (2016). ‘The meaning and perception of soul in the culture of the Podhale region’, Adeptus Pismo Humanistów 7, pp. 1–10.

Hall, E. (1976). Beyond Culture. New York: Anchor Books.

Koncewicz-Dziduch, E. (2017). ‘Sociocultural characteristics of Montenegrins—the negative message in positive jokes’, European Journal of Humour Research 5(2), pp.71–79.

Oring, E. (2016). Joking Asides. The Theory, Analysis and Aesthetics of Humor. Logan: Utah University Press.

Oring, E. (2017). ‘The consolations of humor’, European Journal of Humour Research 5(4), pp. 1–11.

Otto, B.K. (2001). Fools are Everywhere: The Court Jester Around the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rak, M. (2015). Kulturemy podhalańskie, Biblioteka LingVariów 19. Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka.

Sikora, J. (2012). ‘Kazania góralskie’, in Sikora, J. (ed.), Twórczość kaznodziejska ks. Józefa Tischnera, Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego, pp. 134–151.

Tischner, J. (2003a). Historia filozofii po góralsku. Kraków: Znak.

Tischner, J. (2003b). Spotkanie: Z ks. Józefem Tischnerem rozmawia Anna Karoń-Ostrowska. Kraków: Znak.

Weitz, E. (2014). ‘Fools’, in Attardo, S. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Humor Studies, vol. 1. Los Angeles: Sage, pp. 243–245.

Wyspiański, S. (1998 [1901]). The Wedding. Transl. by Clark, N. Oberon Books: London.

Ziv, A. (1984). Personality and Sense of Humor. New York: Springer.

All authors agree to an Attribution Non-Commercial Non Derivative Creative Commons License on their work.


Download data is not yet available.