Laughter in Conversation

Markku Haakana

in Emotion in Interaction

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730735
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950034 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Laughter in Conversation

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The chapter analyzes the uses of “fake” laughter in conversation, that is, occasions of speakers not really laughing but producing the laugh tokens (e.g, heh and hah) as articulated lexical items. As previous studies suggest, fake laughter can be used as a response to a joke to mark the failure of the joke. The chapter shows that fake laughter is used in various ways in dealing with unsuccessful jokes, both by the teller and by the recipient. Furthermore, the study shows that not all fake laughter is connected with jokes and their success: lexicalized laugh tokens are also used to mark delicate interactional contexts. In all, fake laughter offers a means of doing affect displays, but doing them from a distance. Through fake laughter, the speakers can display an orientation to the relevance of a certain kind of affect display but not commit themselves to the actual affect.

Keywords: laughter; fake laughter; affect; humor

Chapter.  9263 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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