The researchers determined that there are two main kinds of predictors of funniness in words: those related to the form of the word and those related to its meaning.
Upchuck, bubby, boff, wriggly, yaps, giggle, cooch, guffaw, puffball, and jiggly: the top 10 funniest words in the English language, according to a new study by University of Alberta psychology experts.
The purpose of the study was to understand just what it is about certain words that makes them funny. The researchers, from the Department of Computing Science, began their work based on a study from the University of Warwick, which had participants rate the humorousness of nearly 5,000 English words. They then modeled these ratings statistically.
Upchuck, bubby, boff, wriggly, yaps, giggle, cooch, guffaw, puffball, jiggly
The findings show there are two types of funniness predictors: form predictors and semantic predictors.
Form predictors have nothing to do with the meaning of the word, but rather measure elements such as length, letter and sound probabilities, and how similar the word is to other words in sound and writing. For example, the study found that the letter k and the sound 'oo' (as in 'boot') are significantly more likely to occur in funny words than in words that are not funny.
Semantic predictors were taken from a computational model of language and measure how related each word is to different emotions, as well as to six categories of funny words: sex, bodily functions, insults, swear words, partying, and animals.