Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280



This paper reports the findings of a study on the mechanics of insult-retort adjacency pairs in Twitter interactions. The analysis concerns primarily the humorous retorts made by the pornographic entrepreneur Stormy Daniels, who has been pelted with politically-loaded misogynist insults, many of which qualify as slut-shaming. These acts of verbal aggression are the result of her involvement in a legal dispute with President Donald Trump and his former attorney. Based on a carefully collected corpus of public exchanges of tweets, our qualitative analysis achieves a few goals. First, it brings to focus a previously ignored function of witty and creative humour, including the self-deprecating variety, as a powerful rhetorical strategy that helps address insults with dignity and that displays the speaker’s intellectual superiority over the attacker and a good sense of humour, as evidenced by multiple users’ positive metapragmatic evaluations of Stormy Daniels’s retorts. Second, these findings carry vital practical implications for handling misogynist comments, including slut-shaming, online. Third, this study offers new insights into the workings of insults and retorts thereto, not only in multi-party interactions on social media, specifically on Twitter, but also through traditional channels of communication.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license.

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