The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 10, No 3 (2022)

Humor in conversation among bilinguals: constructing ‘otherness’

Marianthi Georgalidou,Vasilia Kourtis-Kazoullis,Hasan Kaili


In this study, we analyse conversations recorded during ethnographic research in two bilingual communities on the island of Rhodes, Greece. We examine: (a) the bilingual in Greek and Turkish Muslim community of Rhodes (Georgalidou et al. 2010, 2013) and (b) the Greek-American/Canadian community of repatriated emigrant families of Rhodian origin (Kourtis-Kazoullis 2016). In particular, combining interactional and conversation analytic frameworks (Auer 1995; Gafaranga 2007), we examine contemporary approaches to bi-/multilingualism focusing on the pragmatics of humour in conversations among bilinguals. We scrutinise aspects of the overall and sequential organisation of talk as well as instances of humour produced by speakers of different ethnic origin, generation, and social groups. We focus on the construction of “otherness,” which reflects the dynamic interplay between the micro-level of conversational practices and the macro-level of discourse involving contrasting categorisations and identities pertaining to differently orientated ethnic and social groups. Based on the analysis, we will show a) how humorous targeting orients in-groups versus out-groups, and b) mediates the dynamic process of constructing the identity of speakers who, being members of minority linguistic communities, represent “otherness.”



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