Conversational humor in French and Australian English: What makes an utterance (un)funny?

Mullan, K and Beal, C 2018, 'Conversational humor in French and Australian English: What makes an utterance (un)funny?', Intercultural Pragmatics, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 451-485.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Conversational humor in French and Australian English: What makes an utterance (un)funny?
Author(s) Mullan, K
Beal, C
Year 2018
Journal name Intercultural Pragmatics
Volume number 15
Issue number 4
Start page 451
End page 485
Total pages 35
Publisher De Gruyter
Abstract In this paper we focus primarily on the second dimension of the model designed for the comparative cross-cultural analysis of conversational humor outlined in (Béal, Christine & Kerry Mullan. 2013. Issues in conversational humour from a cross-cultural perspective: Comparing French and Australian corpora. In Bert Peeters, Kerry Mullan & Christine Béal (eds.), Cross-culturally Speaking, Speaking Cross-culturally. 107-139. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.), namely the linguistic devices and discursive strategies used by speakers to create humor in social interaction. Using a range of illustrative examples we will show that although a number of similar strategies occur in both the French and Australian English data (play on words, personification, implicit references, borrowing words from other languages), there are also marked differences in terms of preferential choices between French and Australian speakers when it comes to the mechanisms that make a particular utterance or exchange a humorous one. In particular, the French speakers in our data displayed a greater tendency to play with the language itself, while the Australians showed a preference for incongruity and absurdity, and collaborative scenarios with escalation. A number of comparative examples of failed humor are also examined. It will be seen that the responsibility for the failure in all cases lies less with the speaker and more with the hearer; i.e. the problem is not actually with the linguistic device employed, but with the hearer's non-appreciation of the humor or lack of humor support.
Subject French Language
Discourse and Pragmatics
Keyword(s) Conversational humor
Australian English
humor mechanisms
DOI - identifier 10.1515/ip-2018-0016
Copyright notice © 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.
ISSN 1613-365X
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