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.
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