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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

IMPACT FACTOR 2018: 0.400
5-year IMPACT FACTOR: 0.750

CiteScore 2018: 0.61

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.305
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.670

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Volume 33, Issue 4-5


Evaluating experience in funny ways: how friends bond through conversational hum

Naomi K. Knight
  • Corresponding author
  • Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, V5A 1S6, Canada
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Published Online: 2013-08-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0025


This paper explores conversational humor between friends and demonstrates through a systemic functional linguistic (SFL) perspective how friends play with evaluative meanings in their humor to achieve bonding and affiliation. Sequences of talk that feature shared laughter are analyzed and it is shown that speakers make humorous contrasts between social values related to their friendship groups and community memberships. Using SFL tools like appraisal, the examples reveal contrasts as well as layering of evaluations of experiences, people, and things in the speakers' lives with underlying community values known to be shared with those with whom they are joking. It is argued that this “convivial conversational humor” is one kind of affiliation process in which friends manage their connections to each other and to the social world. This paper contributes to SFL theory by providing new insights into humor and conversational talk, and also builds on the theory by offering connections between humorous uses of appraisal and affiliation as a model for social bonding. By doing so, this paper aims to highlight the value of a systemic functional linguistic perspective on conversational humor.

Keywords: humor; conversation; affiliation; bonding; appraisal; evaluation; SFL

About the article

Naomi K. Knight

Naomi K. Knight is a postdoctoral research assistant at Simon Fraser University currently working on research into psychotherapy communication with Peter Muntigl. She received her PhD from the University of Sydney and has also published in conversational humor and interspecies communication. Naomi is the co-creator of the Free Linguistics Conference and co-editor of its annual proceedings. Address for correspondence: 193 Dorchester Boulevard Unit 203, St. Catharines, ON L2M 7V8 Canada 〈 〉.

Published Online: 2013-08-27

Published in Print: 2013-08-19

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 33, Issue 4-5, Pages 553–574, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0025.

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