An ethno-pragmatic analysis of humour in Akan draughts games
Keywords:Humour, superiority theory, games, invectives, context, ethnography.
Humour is an important aspect of human behaviour and communication. However, it is one of the least studied phenomena in Akan linguistics. This paper, therefore, offers an ethno-pragmatic analysis of humour in the Akan draughts game called Dame. It focuses on the types of humour, the linguistic strategies used in creating humour and the functions of humour in the game. Data were gathered through non-participant observations of the game and semi-structured interviews. The paper shows that participants of the game generally resort to teasing in the form of jocular mockery and jocular abuse. This is done through the use of stylistic devices like metaphor, allusion, sarcasm and simile, as well as other linguistic strategies like rhetorical questions and songs. Contextual cues such as laughter and giggles are employed to signal the evocation of a humorous frame, and as such, insults and ridicule should be perceived as ‘this is play’. Through the application of the superiority theory, we argue that participants often use insults and ridicule, which generate humour, to demoralize and spread fear in a losing contestant while boosting the confidence, competence and importance of the winning contestant. Rather than generating tension and conflict, this language use engenders bonding and strengthens group cohesion.
Archakis, Argiris, and Tsakona, Villy, 2005. Analyzing conversational data in GTVH terms: A new approach to the issue of identity construction via humour. Humour 18: 41–68.
Attardo, Salvatore,1993. Violation of conversational maxims and cooperation: The case of jokes. Journal of Pragmatics 19: 537–558.
Attardo, Salvatore,1994. Linguistic theories of humour. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Attardo, Salvatore, 2002. Cognitive stylistics of humorous texts. In Elena Semino and Jonathan Culpeper eds., Cognitive Stylistics: Language and Cognition in Text Analysis. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 231–250.
Attardo, Salvatore, 2008. A primer for the linguistics of humour. In Victor Raskin and Willibald Ruch, eds, The Primer of Humor Research, 101-155. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Cooper, Cecily, 2008. Elucidating the bonds of workplace humour: A relational process model. Human Relations 61: 1087-1115.
Creswell, John W, 1998. Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Dolphyne, Florence A, 1998. The Akan (Twi-Fante) language: Its sound systems and tonal structure. Accra: Woeli Publishing Services.
Dolphyne, Florence A, 2006. The Akan (Twi-Fante) language: Its sound systems and tonal structure. Accra: Woeli Publishing Services.
Ford, Thomas E., and Mark A. Ferguson. 2004. Social consequences of disparagement humour: A prejudiced norm theory. Personality and social psychology review 8.1: 79-94.
Ferguson, Mark. A, and Ford, Thomas. E., 2008. Disparagement humour: A theoretical and empirical review of psychoanalytic, superiority, and social identity theories. Humour: International Journal of Humour Research 21. 3: 283-312.
Fine, Gary Alan, and De Soucey, Michael, 2005. Joking cultures: Humor themes as social regulation in group life. Humour. 18.1: 1-22.
Foot, Hugh, and McCreadie, May, 2006. Humour and Laughter. In Owen Hargie. eds., The Handbook of communication skills, pp. 293-322. New York: Routledge.
Freud, Sigmund, 1905. Jokes and its relation to the unconscious. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud pp. 1-247.
Ghana Statistical Service, 2012. Population and Housing Census. Accra: Sakoa Press Limited.
Gruner, Charles. R, 1978. Understanding laughter: The workings of wit and humour. Chicago: Burnham Incorporated Publication Limited.
Harris, Mathew K, 2009. The political application of humour. Syracuse University SURFACE.
Hobbes, Thomas, 1968. Leviathan. Harmonsworth: Penguin.
Holmes, Janet, 2000. Politeness, power and provocation: How humour functions in the workplace. Discourse Studies 2.2: 159–185.
Janes, Leslie M, and Olson, James M. 2010. Is it you or it is me? Contrasting effects of ridicule targeting other people versus the self. Europe’s Journal of Psychology 6.3: 46-70.
Jewell, Paul, 2005. Humour in cognitive and social development: Creative artists and class clowns. International Education Journal 6.2: 200-205.
Labov, William, 1973. Language in the inner city: Studies in the Black English Vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-humor-code/201109/the-importance-humor research.
Murata, Kazuyo, 2014. An empirical cross-cultural study of humour in business meetings in New Zealand and Japan. Journal of Pragmatics 60: 251-265.
Murphy, Scott Patrick, 2017. Humour Orgies as Ritual Insult: Putdowns and Solidarity Maintenance in a Corner Donut Shop. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 46.1:108–132.
Obadare, Ebenezer, 2009.The Uses of Ridicule: Humour, 'Infrapolitics' and Civil Society in Nigeria. African Affairs 108.431: 241-261.
Obeng, Samuel Gyasi, 1999. Apologies in Akan discourse. Journal of pragmatics 31.5: 709-734.
O’ring, Elliot, 2003. Engaging Humor. USA: Board of Trustees O’ring, Elliot, 2008. Humour in anthropology and folklore. In Victor and Willibald, eds., The Primer of Humour Research pp.183-210.
Owu-Ewie, Charles, 2012. Introduction to Traditional and Action research. Accra: Vision Express Secretariat Service.
Ross, Alison, 1998. The language of humour. London: Taylor and Francis/Routledge.
Palmer, Jerry, 1993.Taking Humour Seriously. London: Routledge.
Van Ramshort, Jared P, 2017. Laughing about it: Emotional and affective spaces of humour in geopolitics of migration. Geopolitics pp. 1-20.
Raskin, Victor, 1985. Semantic mechanisms of humour. Boston & Lancaster: D. Reidel. Publishing company.
Raskin, Victor, 1987. Linguistic heuristics of humour: A script-based semantic approach. International journal of the sociology of language pp.11-26.
Romero, Eric. J., and Cruthirds. Kelvin W., 2006. The Use of Humour in the Workplace. Academy of Management Perspectives 20.2:58-69.
Ruch, Willibald, 2008. Psychology of humour. In Victor and Willibald, eds., The Primer of Humour Research, 17-100.
Sekyi-Baidoo, Yaw, 2016. Akan Pre-eventive Apologies or Apologetic Signals. International Journal of Culture and History 2.3: 122-131.
Schnurr, Stephanie, 2005. Humour and Leadership Discourse in Different Workplace Cultures. Unpublished PhD dissertation, Victoria University of Wellington.
Takovski, Aleksander, 2018. Extending ethnic humour theory: Genuine vs. functional ethnic joke scripts. European Journal of Humour Research 6.2: 60-80.
Westwood, Robert, and Rhodes, Carl, 2007. Humour, Work and Organization. London: Routledge.
Wilson, Christopher P., 1979. Jokes: Form, content, use, and function. New York: Academic Press.
Wu, Zhihui. 2013. The Laughter-eliciting Mechanism of Humour. English Linguistics Research, 2.1: 52-63.
Yankah, Kwesi. 1983. From Loose Abuse to Poetic Couplets: The case of Fante Tone Riddle. In Maledicta VII: 167-177.
Zillmann, Dolf, 1983. Disparagement humour. In McGhee Paul E. and Jeffrey H. Goldstein eds., Handbook of Humor Research 1:85–107. New York: Springer
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 VICTORIA OFORI, Grace Diabah, Kofi Agyekum
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
The Ghana Journal of Linguistics is published by the Linguistics Association of Ghana, P. O. Box LG 61, Legon, Accra, Ghana.
© Linguistics Association of Ghana and individual authors, 2020.