Humor, ethos, technical communication, mayer, identification, enforcement, clarification, differentiation
Within the realm of technical communication, humor has often been regarded as an unnecessary or risky rhetorical device that can negatively impact the credibility of a document. While many other professional fields, such as medicine, computer technology fields, or business have used humor, and humor continues to crop up in “user as producer” documentation, technical writing continues to approach humor cautiously and with little theoretical guidance. In order to fully understand how humor functions, it is important to understand the main theories of humor: superiority, relief, and incongruity. It is also important to understand how humor functions, by looking at Meyer’s four functions of humor: identification, clarification, enforcement, and differentiation. Some primary and secondary manuals have successfully used a rhetorical strategy incorporating humor. Google uses a persona and situated ethos that projects a sense of fun and humor, and incorporates some humor into their documentation. The ““For Dummies”” series is well known and recognized for the situated ethos of providing fun, entertaining direction, while individual authors choose a specific invented ethos for each book written. The three theories of humor and four functions of humor can be applied to humor used in Google and ““For Dummies””. This demonstration better highlights how humor operates and functions in communication, and can provide technical communicators with a tool to use when considering the application of humor in documentation. The application further highlights the need for greater understanding of how humor affects the credibility and success of documentation.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Arts and Humanities
English; Technical Communications
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic, Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities
Roberts, David, "The Ethos Of Humor In Technical Communication" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2683.