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Thursday, April 10, 2014: Anatoly Liberman on the Origins of Humor

Why People Laugh, or, When Did Laughter Meet the Sense of Humor?

The IAS presents Anatoly Liberman, Professor of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch.


Download as: audio, podcast video, or original.

Q&A

Download as: audio, podcast video, or original.

anatoly liberman laughterAnimals don’t laugh. A guffawing cow has reality only on a label for processed cheese. By contrast, people have always laughed: at births and at funerals, in joy and in sorrow, while viewing scenes of cruelty and acts of kindness, or simply when tickled. But one day laughter became a reaction to verbal jokes, and the history of the human race changed forever: the modern sense of humor was born. Professor Liberman’s scholarly and entertaining talk is devoted to the history of this transformed and transforming laughter.

Anatoly Liberman is a professor of German, Scandinavian and Dutch at the University of Minnesota. Professor Liberman has published widely across the spectrum of Germanic linguistics, but his primary interest has been the history of English words. His many works include the recent publication of a popular book for lay readers entitled Word Origins… and How We Know Them: Etymology for Everyone (2005), as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology (2008), and A Bibliography of English Etymology (2009).

Liberman.Anatoly smilingProfessor Liberman spoke in 2012 on Translating Poetry, Or, Versifying with an Accent, will speak in November 2014 on Shakespeare in Love, and also contributes regular posts to the Oxford University Press’s Oxford Etymologist blog.

Cosponsored by the Department of German, Scandinavian, and Dutch. This talk occurred Thursday, April 10, 2014, at 7:00 p.m., in Northrop, Best Buy Theater.

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