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Social Interaction

  • By: Joan Swann & Yu Wang
  • In: Encyclopedia of Humor Studies
  • Edited by: Salvatore Attardo
  • Subject:General Media, Communication & Cultural Studies, Sociology of Culture

Humor plays a major role in interaction between people—in conversation and other forms of spoken discourse and in interactive writing such as online communication and letter writing. The role of humor in such contexts has been studied in various forms of discourse analysis that examine both the formal properties of humor and, importantly, the interactional functions it fulfills. Humor may be an explicit focus of such research, but studies of language play, or creativity in language, often address similar phenomena, and examples of these are included herein.

Formal Properties of Humor

Researchers have identified certain formal categories of humor that occur in interaction between people. For instance, Neal Norrick identifies four categories of conversational humor: jokes, personal anecdotes, wordplay, and irony. Norrick’s purpose is theoretical: to distinguish ...

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