Humour in microblogging

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Research within interpersonal pragmatics highlights the relational aspect oflanguage in use (Locher and Graham 2010). While this focus has especiallybeen dealt with in politeness research, it can also be fruitfully combined withthe study of identity construction through language (see Locher 2008). Theuse of humour is such a means of identity construction since showing a senseof humour in interaction is valued in many contexts. This chapter reports ona project on Facebook status updates (see Bolander and Locher 2010, Locherand Bolander 2014) and thus provides insights into identity construction in aninteractive Web 2.0 social network site, where the participation framework issuch that status updates are written in a semi-public environment in front of anaudience of ratified Facebook friends, who can decide to move from the role ofoverhearer/eavesdropper to participating actively. We conducted a qualitativediscourse analytic study of how humour is used in status updates by participantsof two Facebook focus groups. These humorous acts of microblogging(Zhao and Rosson 2009; Yus 2011; Zappavigna 2012) are contrasted with differenttypes of identity construction in the other status updates. While some butnot all convey that they have a sense of humour, others also evoke identities inconnection with other personality traits, as well as making pastime, work, andrelationships claims.


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