Språkbruk, skämt och kön : Teoretiska modeller och sociolingvistiska tillämpningar

Sammanfattning: This thesis deals with jokes and gender as social meaning. Here gender identity is regarded as one kind of social meaning. The gender identity of the individual is produced in interaction with other persons and is also conditioned by cultural codes. Of particular interest is how social identity is constituted by linguistic means. This is discussed using a model of indexicality, i.e. how linguistic features index one or more dimensions of the social context. Especially the indirect and constitutive relations between language and gender are discussed in terms of stances, acts and activities. In this context the speech act joking is seen as an example of a male gender constituent. A second theoretical angle consists of introducing some linguistic theories of humour and applying them to two empirical materials. The first material consists of audiovisual recordings of school pupils’ group discussions with no adult leader present. The pupils work with the same task, both in unisexual and mixed groups. The study focuses on describing how the speakers present suggestions of their own, and respond to the suggestions of others. The suggestions have lent themselves to being grouped into three categories: serious suggestions, playful suggestions, and joking suggestions. Identifying jokes in conversation can be difficult; thus four criteria for joke identification are applied: intention, structure, reaction and convention. Two types of structural criteria are used: semantic and rhetorical. The second material consists of a questionnaire administered to university students, which asks whom the informant apprehends as funny. A general tendency in the answers is that men only mention men, while women single out both women and men. Another tendency is that few women are found in the answers of the questions concerning the mass media, while women mention many funny women in the questions about their own everyday experiences. In this study it is argued that language use not only reflects our place in culture and society but also helps to constitute that place. Women and men encounter different cultural codes, and thus their performance of different speech acts also differs. This has an impact on the speakers’ social identity, one of which is gender identity.