Dr Debra   Aarons
Senior Lecturer

Dr Debra Aarons

BA (Majors English and Philosophy) (Witwatersrand) 1976

BA Honours (English Literature)  (Witwatersrand) 1977

Higher Dip. Ed PG (Witwatersrand) 1979

BA Honours (Applied Linguistics)  (Witwatersrand) 1986

PhD (Applied Linguistics) (Boston University, Boston, Mass.) 1994

Arts,Design & Architecture
Humanities & Languages

Debra Aarons currently specialises in the linguistic analysis of humour, focusing on the formal grammatical properties, as well as the pragmatics, of humour. She is interested in what jokes can reveal about our tacit knowledge of language, and how play with language taps into that knowledge. In the past she has conducted research in signed language linguistics, from syntactic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Her work includes an examination into cryptic crosswords, referential peculiarity in humorous utterances, and language play in signed languages. Most recently she has been working on socially critical standup comedy. Some recent publications are (together with Marc Mierowsky), The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel as an alternate history of standup (2021); Public conscience of ‘the chosen people’: Sarah Silverman in the Wake of Lenny Bruce (2017); Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy (2014/2020) all in the journal, Comedy Studies; How to do things with jokes: Speech acts in standup comedy (2017) European Journal of Humour Research. Full publication list available here: https://www.ada.unsw.edu.au/our-people/debra-aarons

Phone
0422144613
Location
250 Morven Brown

Publications

  • Book Chapters | 2019
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2019, 'Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy (5:2)', in The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader, Routledge, pp. 247 - 260, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780429057526-28
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2019, 'Obscenity, Dirtiness and Licence in Jewish Comedy', in Wilkie I (ed.), The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader, Routledge, London, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780429057526
    Book Chapters | 2017
    Aarons D, 2017, 'Puns and Tacit Linguistic Knowledge', in Attardo S (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Linguistics of Humor, Routledge, London, pp. 80 - 94, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315731162
    Books | 2012
    Aarons D, 2012, Jokes and the Linguistic Mind, Routledge, New York/UK, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203814741
    Book Chapters | 2003
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Reynolds, L , 2003, 'South African SIgn Language: Changing Policies and Practice', in Monaghan L; Turner G; Nakamura K; Schmaling C (ed.), Many Ways to be Deaf, Gallaudet University Press, pp. 194 - 210
    Book Chapters | 2002
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Akach P, 2002, 'South African Sign Language--one or many?', in Mesthrie R (ed.), Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, pp. 127 - 147
    Book Chapters | 1997
    Aarons D; Neidle C; Kegl J; Bahan B, 1997, 'Rightward wh-movement in American Sign Language', in Beerman D; LeBlanc D; Riemsdijk HCV (ed.), Rightward Movement, John Benjamins Publishing, pp. 247 - 278
    Book Chapters | 1995
    Aarons D; Aarons, Bahan, Kegl, Neidle , 1995, 'Lexical Tense Markers in American Sign Language', in Emmorey K; Reilly JS (ed.), Language, Gesture, and Space, Psychology Press
    Book Chapters | 1994
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Bahan B; Kegl J; Neidle C, 1994, 'Subjects and Agreement in American Sign Language', in Ahlgren I; Bergman B; Brennan M; Ahlgren I; Bergman B; Brennan M (ed.), Perspectives on Sign Language Structure, ISLA, pp. 13 - 28
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2019, 'Obscenity, Dirtiness and Licence in Jewish Comedy', in Wilkie I (ed.), The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader, Routledge, London, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780429057526
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2019, 'Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy (5:2)', in The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader, Routledge, pp. 247 - 260, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780429057526-28
    Book Chapters | 2017
    Aarons D, 2017, 'Puns and Tacit Linguistic Knowledge', in Attardo S (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Linguistics of Humor, Routledge, London, pp. 80 - 94, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315731162
    Books | 2012
    Aarons D, 2012, Jokes and the Linguistic Mind, Routledge, New York/UK, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780203814741
    Book Chapters | 2003
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Reynolds, L , 2003, 'South African SIgn Language: Changing Policies and Practice', in Monaghan L; Turner G; Nakamura K; Schmaling C (ed.), Many Ways to be Deaf, Gallaudet University Press, pp. 194 - 210
    Book Chapters | 2002
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Akach P, 2002, 'South African Sign Language--one or many?', in Mesthrie R (ed.), Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, pp. 127 - 147
    Book Chapters | 1997
    Aarons D; Neidle C; Kegl J; Bahan B, 1997, 'Rightward wh-movement in American Sign Language', in Beerman D; LeBlanc D; Riemsdijk HCV (ed.), Rightward Movement, John Benjamins Publishing, pp. 247 - 278
    Book Chapters | 1995
    Aarons D; Aarons, Bahan, Kegl, Neidle , 1995, 'Lexical Tense Markers in American Sign Language', in Emmorey K; Reilly JS (ed.), Language, Gesture, and Space, Psychology Press
    Book Chapters | 1994
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Bahan B; Kegl J; Neidle C, 1994, 'Subjects and Agreement in American Sign Language', in Ahlgren I; Bergman B; Brennan M; Ahlgren I; Bergman B; Brennan M (ed.), Perspectives on Sign Language Structure, ISLA, pp. 13 - 28
  • Journal articles | 2021
    Aarons D; MIEROWSKY M, 2021, 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: an alternative history of standup.', Comedy Studies, vol. 12
    Journal articles | 2017
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2017, 'How to do things with jokes: Speech acts in standup comedy', European Journal of Humour Research, vol. 5, pp. 158 - 168, http://dx.doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2017.5.4.aarons
    Journal articles | 2017
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2017, 'Public conscience of ‘the chosen people’: Sarah Silverman in the Wake of Lenny Bruce', Comedy Studies, vol. 8, pp. 154 - 166, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2040610X.2017.1343272
    Journal articles | 2015
    Aarons DL, 2015, 'Following Orders: Playing Fast and Loose with Language and Letters', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 35, pp. 351 - 380, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07268602.2015.1068459
    Journal articles | 2014
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2014, 'Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy', Comedy Studies, vol. 5, pp. 165 - 177, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2040610X.2014.967017
    Journal articles | 2006
    Aarons D, 2006, 'Language development and learning to read: the scientific study of how language development affects reading skills', Educational Review, vol. 58, pp. 499 - 501, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000242913100013&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a
    Journal articles | 2003
    Aarons D; Morgan RZ, 2003, 'Classifier Predicates and the Creation of Multiple Perspectives in South African Sign Language', Sign Language Studies, vol. 3, pp. 125 - 156, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/sls.2003.0001
    Journal articles | 2002
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Akach P, 2002, 'Inclusion and the deaf child in South African education', Perspectives in Education : Many Languages in Education : Special Issue 1, vol. 20, pp. 153 - 170
    Journal articles | 1992
    Aarons D; Bahan B; Kegl J; Neidle C, 1992, 'Clausal Structure and a Tier for Grammatical Marking in American Sign Language', Nordic Journal of Linguistics, vol. 15, pp. 103 - 142, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0332586500002560
    Journal articles | 2021
    Aarons D; MIEROWSKY M, 2021, 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: an alternative history of standup.', Comedy Studies, vol. 12
    Journal articles | 2017
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2017, 'How to do things with jokes: Speech acts in standup comedy', European Journal of Humour Research, vol. 5, pp. 158 - 168, http://dx.doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2017.5.4.aarons
    Journal articles | 2017
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2017, 'Public conscience of ‘the chosen people’: Sarah Silverman in the Wake of Lenny Bruce', Comedy Studies, vol. 8, pp. 154 - 166, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2040610X.2017.1343272
    Journal articles | 2015
    Aarons DL, 2015, 'Following Orders: Playing Fast and Loose with Language and Letters', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 35, pp. 351 - 380, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07268602.2015.1068459
    Journal articles | 2014
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2014, 'Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy', Comedy Studies, vol. 5, pp. 165 - 177, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2040610X.2014.967017
    Journal articles | 2006
    Aarons D, 2006, 'Language development and learning to read: the scientific study of how language development affects reading skills', Educational Review, vol. 58, pp. 499 - 501, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000242913100013&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a
    Journal articles | 2003
    Aarons D; Morgan RZ, 2003, 'Classifier Predicates and the Creation of Multiple Perspectives in South African Sign Language', Sign Language Studies, vol. 3, pp. 125 - 156, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/sls.2003.0001
    Journal articles | 2002
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Akach P, 2002, 'Inclusion and the deaf child in South African education', Perspectives in Education : Many Languages in Education : Special Issue 1, vol. 20, pp. 153 - 170
    Journal articles | 1992
    Aarons D; Bahan B; Kegl J; Neidle C, 1992, 'Clausal Structure and a Tier for Grammatical Marking in American Sign Language', Nordic Journal of Linguistics, vol. 15, pp. 103 - 142, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0332586500002560
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2019, 'Obscenity, Dirtiness and Licence in Jewish Comedy', in Wilkie I (ed.), The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader, Routledge, London, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780429057526
    Book Chapters | 2019
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2019, 'Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy (5:2)', in The Routledge Comedy Studies Reader, Routledge, pp. 247 - 260, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9780429057526-28
    Book Chapters | 2017
    Aarons D, 2017, 'Puns and Tacit Linguistic Knowledge', in Attardo S (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of the Linguistics of Humor, Routledge, London, pp. 80 - 94, http://dx.doi.org/10.4324/9781315731162
    Book Chapters | 2003
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Reynolds, L , 2003, 'South African SIgn Language: Changing Policies and Practice', in Monaghan L; Turner G; Nakamura K; Schmaling C (ed.), Many Ways to be Deaf, Gallaudet University Press, pp. 194 - 210
    Book Chapters | 2002
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Akach P, 2002, 'South African Sign Language--one or many?', in Mesthrie R (ed.), Language in South Africa, Cambridge University Press, pp. 127 - 147
    Book Chapters | 1997
    Aarons D; Neidle C; Kegl J; Bahan B, 1997, 'Rightward wh-movement in American Sign Language', in Beerman D; LeBlanc D; Riemsdijk HCV (ed.), Rightward Movement, John Benjamins Publishing, pp. 247 - 278
    Book Chapters | 1995
    Aarons D; Aarons, Bahan, Kegl, Neidle , 1995, 'Lexical Tense Markers in American Sign Language', in Emmorey K; Reilly JS (ed.), Language, Gesture, and Space, Psychology Press
    Book Chapters | 1994
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Bahan B; Kegl J; Neidle C, 1994, 'Subjects and Agreement in American Sign Language', in Ahlgren I; Bergman B; Brennan M; Ahlgren I; Bergman B; Brennan M (ed.), Perspectives on Sign Language Structure, ISLA, pp. 13 - 28
  • Other | 2007
    Aarons D; Lawrence P, 2007, Unrepresented Accused and the Language of the Magistrates' Court, Centre for Law and Society, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
    Theses / Dissertations | 1994
    Aarons D; Aarons D, 1994, Aspects of American Sign Language Syntax, Boston University
    Other | 2007
    Aarons D; Lawrence P, 2007, Unrepresented Accused and the Language of the Magistrates' Court, Centre for Law and Society, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
    Theses / Dissertations | 1994
    Aarons D; Aarons D, 1994, Aspects of American Sign Language Syntax, Boston University
    Journal articles | 2021
    Aarons D; MIEROWSKY M, 2021, 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: an alternative history of standup.', Comedy Studies, vol. 12
    Journal articles | 2017
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2017, 'How to do things with jokes: Speech acts in standup comedy', European Journal of Humour Research, vol. 5, pp. 158 - 168, http://dx.doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2017.5.4.aarons
    Journal articles | 2017
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2017, 'Public conscience of ‘the chosen people’: Sarah Silverman in the Wake of Lenny Bruce', Comedy Studies, vol. 8, pp. 154 - 166, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2040610X.2017.1343272
    Journal articles | 2015
    Aarons DL, 2015, 'Following Orders: Playing Fast and Loose with Language and Letters', Australian Journal of Linguistics, vol. 35, pp. 351 - 380, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07268602.2015.1068459
    Journal articles | 2014
    Aarons D; Mierowsky M, 2014, 'Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy', Comedy Studies, vol. 5, pp. 165 - 177, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2040610X.2014.967017
    Journal articles | 2006
    Aarons D, 2006, 'Language development and learning to read: the scientific study of how language development affects reading skills', Educational Review, vol. 58, pp. 499 - 501, http://gateway.webofknowledge.com/gateway/Gateway.cgi?GWVersion=2&SrcApp=PARTNER_APP&SrcAuth=LinksAMR&KeyUT=WOS:000242913100013&DestLinkType=FullRecord&DestApp=ALL_WOS&UsrCustomerID=891bb5ab6ba270e68a
    Journal articles | 2003
    Aarons D; Morgan RZ, 2003, 'Classifier Predicates and the Creation of Multiple Perspectives in South African Sign Language', Sign Language Studies, vol. 3, pp. 125 - 156, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/sls.2003.0001
    Journal articles | 2002
    Aarons D; Aarons D; Akach P, 2002, 'Inclusion and the deaf child in South African education', Perspectives in Education : Many Languages in Education : Special Issue 1, vol. 20, pp. 153 - 170
    Journal articles | 1992
    Aarons D; Bahan B; Kegl J; Neidle C, 1992, 'Clausal Structure and a Tier for Grammatical Marking in American Sign Language', Nordic Journal of Linguistics, vol. 15, pp. 103 - 142, http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0332586500002560

Awards

Grants

Media

Dr Debra Aarons is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics in the School of Languages and Humanities (FADA). She currently specialises in the linguistic analysis of humour, focusing on the formal grammatical properties, as well as the pragmatics, of humour. She is interested in what jokes can reveal about our tacit knowledge of language, and how play with language taps into that knowledge. In the past she has conducted research in signed language linguistics, from syntactic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Her work includes an examination into cryptic crosswords, referential peculiarity in humorous utterances, and language play in signed languages. Most recently she has been working on socially critical standup comedy. Some recent publications are (together with Marc Mierowsky), The Marvelous Mrs.Maisel as an alternate history of standup (2021); Public conscience of ‘the chosen people’: Sarah Silverman in the Wake of Lenny Bruce (2017); Obscenity, dirtiness and licence in Jewish comedy (2014/2020) all in the journal, Comedy Studies; How to do things with jokes: Speech acts in standup comedy (2017) European Journal of Humour Research. She is currently writing a monograph for Taylor and Francis, together with Delia Chiaro, Playing with Food and Language: Eating, Joking and Disgust. Full publication list available here: https://www.ada.unsw.edu.au/our-people/debra-aarons