An Account of Humor in Covid-19 Internet Memes from the Perspective of Cognitive Relevance: A Contrastive Case Study




cognitive cyber pragmatics, humor, Incongruity Theory, internet screenshot memes, Intertextuality Theory, Relevance Theory


In response to Covid-19 pandemic, online humor proliferated across social media platforms as a vital coping mechanism in dealing with the unendurable pandemic-related restrictions through creating a sense of bonding in the face of this calamity regardless of geographical area, nationality, ethnicity, or socio-political affiliations. This research is a cross-lingual case study of internet screenshot memes on Covid-19 in both Arabic and English languages. It explores differences and/or similarities in establishing cognitive relevance and instigating humorous incongruity. The paper uses a three-dimensional theoretical framework that integrates Relevance Theory (RT), as a communication theory in the field of cognitive cyber-pragmatics, with the theories of Intertextuality and Incongruity in humor. Qualitative descriptive analysis revealed a consensus to regard the mass reaction to the pandemic as exaggerated, to use an interplay of intertextuality and incongruity to achieve the rhetorical purpose of critically satirizing such reactions by instigating laughter at one’s silliness. The analysis demonstrated that humorous incongruity springs from the opposing scripts between the content of IMs and the social context surrounding the pandemic as well as a marked similarity in the sources used for establishing cognitive relevance such as background knowledge and logical and lexical information reflecting RT principles.

Author Biography

Maha SalahEldin Mohamed Hamed, Misr International University (MIU), Cairo, Egypt


Department of Al-Alsun, Faculty of Al-Alsun and Mass Communication

Misr International University (MIU), Cairo, Egypt




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Date of Publication


How to Cite

Hamed, M. S. M. (2024). An Account of Humor in Covid-19 Internet Memes from the Perspective of Cognitive Relevance: A Contrastive Case Study. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies.



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