Humour in quasi-conversations

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The article extends the application of the mechanisms of conversational humour from everyday conversations to written mass media texts. It argues that such an approach is made possible by the dialogic structure of some texts, despite the lack of spontaneity and authenticity that is found in casual conversations and that appears implicit in many definitions of conversational humour. Identifying instances of quasi-conversational verbal exchange in the novel journalistic genre of live text commentary, the article points out that humour in such written texts is achieved cooperatively between different voices present in the text, i.e. the journalist’s voice and the authentic voices of selected readers whose emails are cited in the text of the commentary. A close analysis reveals that within the commentary, quasi-conversational segments constitute a special narrative layer that is characterised by its orientation to gossip and which includes frequent elements of humour. After defining the concept of a quasi-conversation and distinguishing between two sets of mechanisms of conversational humour, the article focuses on the interactive mechanisms (retorts, teasing, and banter) that occur in second turns in conversations, i.e. as reactions to previous speakers’ turns.


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