Gender Differences in Conversational Humor under Speech Act Theory
|Course||English Language and Literature|
|Keywords||gender differences conversational humor speech act theory humorous function Friends|
The relationship between gender and language has been one of the heated topics in linguistic field, and the efforts on it have been long and lasting. Humor, as a very complex and intriguing social phenomenon, has long caught attention in fields like linguistics, sociology, philosophy, literature etc. Conversational humor (CH), as a special form of communication, has been given increasing concern in the field of linguistics. The exploration on the relationship between gender and conversational humor started quite recently, and attempts have been made to address this issue with different theories and approaches. This thesis makes a tentative effort to explore gender differences in conversational humor based on speech act theory, aiming at finding out the similarities and differences in men and women’s conversational humor from the perspective of humorous speech act.Most of the previous studies on gender and conversational humor are based on actual speech from ordinary conversations. There is little attention to fictional speech in this field. This thesis chooses fictional speech from American sitcom Friends as studying object. The authentic humorous language and three-male-three-female gender composition in Friends make it perfect data source to study the relationship between gender and conversational humor.The author randomly takes 110 humorous conversations from Friends as the corpus, and divides it into same-gender groups and mixed-gender groups according to its gender composition. The thesis firstly illustrates the speech acts men and women use in their conversational humor, and then analyzes their speech acts statistically. In order to better understand men and women’s different use of speech acts in their conversational humor(CH), the thesis goes further to explore the three functions men and women’s speech acts may achieve, and then statistically analyzes the speech acts men and women use to perform each function.With a series of analysis, some valuable findings have been reached: there are similarities as well as differences in male and female’s conversational humor. Both men and women are most likely to use representatives to achieve the humorous effect, while they rarely use commissives to create humor. Women use directives and questions slightly more than males do in their conversational humor, and women prefer to use questions for aggressive purpose. Men prefer to use expressives very much and most of expressives are used for aggression in men’s conversational humor. Apart from this, we have also examined that men and women show different tendency of using speech acts in their CH in different gender groups.These findings are of great significance to not only the study of the relationship between gender and humor but also to second language teaching and cross-cultural communication.