Pointe is defined as the intellectual as well as the unexpected meaning in which, for example, the joke, the anecdote, culminate in an epigram or similar texts. As the point usually marks the end of a rhetorical process, it can be described as a rhetorical stylistic device. Pointen are surprise effects in the course of an action in which the receiver (reader, listener) re-evaluates what has happened so far and often solves his expectation by laughing.
The term is derived from the French and can be translated with tip. The French pointe again refers to the late Latin puncta, which can be translated with Stich. Thus the translation shows what is at stake: namely, the tip, ie the end of a narrative [which is usually comic and surprising]. Let’s look at a simple joke.
A highly groomed couple goes into a fast snack, where they share a hamburger and a portion of French fries. A truck driver takes pity on them and offers to give the woman a meal of his own. “No, thank you,” says the husband. “We share everything.”
The truck driver offers the woman a meal again because she has not eaten any bite. “She will still eat,” the husband assures him. “We share everything.” “And why do not you eat yet?” Asks the truck driver the woman. Then she annoyed: “Because I wait for the teeth!”
The above example is an ordinary, pointed wit. The demand of the truck driver causes a kind of expectation for the recipient; he listens to the narrative and is anxious to see what will follow. This tension is ultimately satisfied with the old woman’s answer when she clearly and clearly shows that the couple actually shares everything: the teeth.
Rising expectation voltage at the receiver to the point, then drop of the curve
The above picture shows what happens to the receiver when a pointed joke is told. Usually the expectation voltage builds up to the point, so you are certainly ready to laugh. If the point is followed, the tension falls, and with a good joke this is acknowledged with a laugh – the curve does not flatten off suddenly, if the point of the joke was not understood.
However, in order for the punctuation to have its surprise effect, it must be understood by the receiver, in order to be able to act through the unexpected, ready-made. What happens when the effect does not occur, everyone knows who has to explain a joke. The joke is no longer funny, the pointe fizzles.
Note: A point therefore means an unexpected and mostly witty meaning. What is essential is that it is understood to solve the receiver’s expectancy. There are points that play with this effect and do not dissolve the tension: the so-called antipointe.
Origins and spread of the point
Probably there are pointed tales since the beginning of mankind. However, it has been shown in texts since antiquity. Here it is mainly used in epigrams, anecdotes, apophthegmata and similar, often funny, short texts.
Above all the epigram helped the Pointe to an enormous circulation in the 17th as well as in the 18. Century. In the sense of the poem, the German designation of the epigram, pointers were cultivated and used numerous, which is why the Baroque can be regarded as the flowering of the Pointe style.
During this time, Pointen jumped into other genera, and entered into stories, anecdotes, aphorisms and numerous fables. But the lyric also became much pointe-rich. Furthermore, the point was formed in the fluctuation literature (compare Schwank). Schwänke often ended morally and instructively in the Middle Ages, with pointers becoming increasingly frequent.
In the twentieth century a counterpart to the Pointe emerged: the so-called Antipointe. An expectation voltage at the receiver is evoked, increased and finally disappointed. Thus the omission or underfilling of the points is characteristic for the antipoints (see Nonsens).
Brief overview: The essential features at a glance
Pointe is the meaningful, unexpected meaning. It is surprising and can not be foreseen to work. We can distinguish between textpoints (at the end of a text) and sentence pointers (at the end of a sentence).
Basically all literary genres can be pointed. Nevertheless, joke, anecdote, aphorism, apophthegma, epigram and sketch are characterized by the use.
In order to understand pointers, recipients and senders have to share a common knowledge. Since the figure is often based on allusions, prejudices and stereotypes, the knowledge about what is meant is indispensable to understand the whole.
Note: In epic texts the term is sometimes only a surprising twist, which was not expected. It often introduces a turning point (see peripetia).