Listen to me talk about Humour and conversation in close relationships
Conference 2015 - IPrA
14th International Pragmatics Association Congress held in University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
There are various practices by which humour arises in interaction, ranging from jocular mockery and teasing through to humourous irony and wisecracks (Béal and Mullan 2013; Dynel 2009, 2013; Haugh 2010, 2014; Sinkevicuite 2013, 2014). One practice that has received somewhat less attention to date is what Hay (2000, 2001) terms “fantasy humour”, where through the (co-)construction of imaginary worlds with their own logic, participants engage in a form of affiliative interactional play. In this paper, we examine instances of fantasy humour identified in a corpus of recordings of over 18 hours of ordinary talk in Portuguese. We draw from an interactional pragmatics perspective (Arundale 1999, 2010; Haugh 2010, 2012), namely, an approach to pragmatics that is informed by research and methods in ethnomethodological conversation analysis (Heritage 1984; Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson 1974), in analysing our collection of candidate episodes of fantasy humour. Two different forms of fantasy humour were identified in our dataset: (1) exaggerated fantasy humour and (2) absurd fantasy humour. While both often featured irony as means of reducing responsibility for what is being said through footing shifts (Clift 1999), in the former case humour arises through exaggeration and creaing caricatures of a known world, whereas in the latter case humour emerges through the seemingly irrational creation of an unknown world. We propose that in the case of exaggerated fantasy humour, participants display values and norms of the group by contrasting the exaggerated scenario with (perceived) shared expectations. The second case seems to function mainly as means of affiliating, that is, as a way of creating social bonds and solidarity amongst members of the group in question. However, we note that in both cases, participants may not only accomplish serious interactional business through fantasy humour episodes, but may also accomplish disaffiliative stances with particular interlocutors. We conclude that fantasy humour not only may occasion evaluations of mock impoliteness (Culpeper 1996; Leech 1983; Haugh and Bousfield 2012), but is also consequential for the ongoing (conjoint) co-constitution of relational connection and separation (Arundale 2006; Haugh 2010) amongst participants.
Letícia Stallone & Michael Haugh Fantasy humour in Brazilian Portuguese interactions (Contribution to The pragmatics of conversational humour, organized by Sinkeviciute Valeria & Marta Dynel)