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Recently, there was a question about 'semantic roles', and someone explained them to me here. It was great. So, I was hoping someone may also know what "semantic scripts" are. I've tried searching Google and some dictionary websites, but they aren't coming up with anything. Actually, I am only able to find the term used in a theory of humor. I need to have the term defined to understand that theory, though. So, the context is poisoned.

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I googled semantic script because I didn't know what it was, and used what I found for an answer. Now I think OP is looking for a definition relating to linguistics rather than humour theory, but frankly I don't think there is one with any significant currency. – FumbleFingers Oct 19 '11 at 5:50
up vote 4 down vote accepted

From Wikipedia Theories of humor ...

The General Theory of Verbal Humor (GTVH) proposed by Victor Raskin and Salvatore Attardo in 1991 (an extension of the semantic script theory of humour, SSTH, which Raskin proposed in 1985) identifies a semantic model capable of expressing incongruities between semantic scripts in verbal humor; this has been seen as an important recent development in the theory of laughter.

The core of the theory is simply that humour involves juxtaposed incompatibilities. A "text" (joke) is funny if...

  • the text is compatible, fully or in part, with two different scripts
  • the two scripts with which the text is compatible are opposite.

...where "scripts" are semantically comprehensible meanings.

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Sounds like 2 1/2 Men. :/ – Wolfpack'08 Oct 19 '11 at 9:01

As I understand it, a semantic script is a collection of concepts that are related to a particular task or event. These concepts may have causal relationships with each other with respect to that event.

Here's an example because that's stupidly abstract:

Suppose you have a text and someone says, "Yeah, I took a flight yesterday." While a literal interpretation of that involves just the flight itself, we as readers understand a whole context and chain of events implied by that. So we know that that person probably:

  1. Bought a ticket
  2. Went to an airport
  3. Waited in a terminal
  4. Boarded a plane
  5. Ate something salty
  6. Took a nap
  7. Disembarked

Also, there bunch of optional or non-causal events and entities involved that we know about. Like what? A pilot, a plane, tickets, ears popping, etc.

The script encapsulates all those things and relates them with respect to taking a flight.

Source: I'm a ph.d student in computational linguistics and I'm procrastinating writing my dissertation by answering a random question I stumbled upon on the internet.

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