Styles of Communication, Vol 2, No 1 (2010)

Is the Unserious Serious? National Traits behind a Comic Mask

Dorota Buszynska


The central focus of attention in the present research paper is constituted by humourous discourse as a valid source of ethnicity markers. What follows is that the analysis at hand is grounded in the ethnolinguistic findings on language, predominantly in that of language’s and culture’s bidirectional dependence and influence (Duranti 1997). It also remains in strict connection with the theory of discourse, understood as a combination of a particular text and its situational, social and cultural contexts (Chruszczewski 2009). The analysis of humorous discourse has been here narrowed down to the ethnic variety of verbal humour, since it most immediately links with both ethnicity and linguistics. Nonetheless, the preliminary assumption on which the research is based is that in all its instances (not only the ethnic or verbal ones) humour reveals the specific features of a given speech community’s culture. In the present paper, the introduced analysis constitutes just a working version of an ethnolinguistic methodology for humour analysis which I aim to develop in the future. For its main tools, it is to employ both certain elements from the socio-cultural perspectives of language study (Wierzbicka’s [1999] cultural scripts, Tabakowska’s [2001] ethnocentrism, or Davies’ [1990] script oppositions) and more linguistically oriented deliberations (such as Raskin’s [1985] semantic scripts and humour competence, or Kreitler, Drechler and Kreitler’s [1988] meaning dimensions).


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