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Conversation

  • By: Neal R. Norrick
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Everyday conversation thrives on wordplay, sarcasm, anecdotes, and jokes. These forms of humor enliven conversation, but they also help us break the ice, fill uncomfortable pauses, negotiate requests for favors, and build group solidarity. Thus, an account of joking will be a fundamental part of any complete description of conversation. And conversation is the natural home of punning, allusion, and joking. We understand these forms of humor only if we can explain their integration into everyday talk and their functioning in it. Consequently, an understanding of humor in everyday conversation is a prerequisite for a complete account of verbal humor. This entry discusses differences between conversational humor and written humor and describes the characteristic features of conversational humor, bantering, punning, storytelling, and joke telling.

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