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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

There’s a mathematical model to predict how funny a word is


A fizza-ma-wizza-ma-dill is the shizzle.

Dr. Seuss and Snoop Dogg have more than just a permanent smirk in common—they are both liberal employers of made-up words that use the uncommon letter “z.” And, as a new study shows, there may be a reason such words make us giggle.

According to the study, which will be published in the January 2016 issue of Journal of Memory and Language, some words are reliably much sillier than other words, and one reason is that they use improbable letters.

Psychologists and linguists from the University of Alberta in Canada and the University of Tübingen in Germany showed over 900 participants a total of 6000 made-up words designed to sound close to real, pronounceable words to determine which strings were deemed reliably funnier....

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