Joker in the pack

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Researchers tend to use the concept of a <i>play frame</i>, a <i>humorous frame</i> or <i>humorous keying</i> in reference to a peculiar communicative mode within which humorous utterances and exchanges are enclosed. The goal of this chapter is to discuss this postulate, explaining the terms used in reference to the humorous mode and accounting for the relationship between it and the non-humorous mode. The paper opens with a succinct survey of literature introducing the concepts of framing, keying and carnival (together with a few other terms used synonymously), both as originally proposed and in the light of their pertinence to the study of humour. Most significantly, special attention is paid to the nature of the interdependence between humorous and non-humorous frames. It is shown how conversationalists can engage in, and alternate between, the two frames. Of vital importance are the notions of intention and intention recognition, which lie at the heart of playful teasing, sometimes centred on multi-layered humour-orientated deception. The theoretical discussion is illustrated with examples culled from genuine dyadic e-mail exchanges.


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