Constructing Gender Identity in the Humorous Conversations of Males and Females

ميراندا الزوکة
2013 مجلة کلية الآداب . جامعة الإسکندرية  
in humorous conversations to be able to keep their positive self-image. The study also identifies the various most commonly employed linguistic devices by males and females in same-and mixed-sex humorous conversations used to construct their gender identity. The study also provides frequency counts of some of the most commonly employed linguistic devices by males and females to construct their identity in same-and mixed-sex conversations. The data used for this study consists of fifteen
more » ... of fifteen conversations, equally divided between same-sex, whether male-male or female-female, and mixed-sex groups. The total length of these conversations is approximately ten hours, and the analysed parts are only the humorous parts where speakers construct their gender identity. The participants are all Englishspeaking foreigners from the United States and the United Kingdom. They are staying in Egypt for various purposes, such as tourism, studying, or working. Some of them also live in Egypt either because they work, or are married to Egyptians. The participants are all university students and graduates who work in various professions, and they all speak Standard English. The analysed conversations have been recorded from various social settings, such as social clubs in Alexandria, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, touristic places, and the Teaching Arabic for Foreigner Learners Center (TAFL) in the Faculty of Arts, Alexandria University. In the TAFL center, there are university students from a number of American and British universities. The conversations have been recorded after obtaining the participants' permission. In the study, they are given pseudo-names to maintain their privacy. The number of participants in every conversation ranges from two to four. 3. Theoretical Background Conversation analysis developed in the 1960s and 1970s by Harvey Sacks, Gaul Jefferson, and Emanuel Schegloff. It describes the social organization of talk or conversations from the perspective of the participants (Ohara & Saft, 2003:153). Conversation analysts usually focus on the extent to which conversations are "interactionally achieved" (Sacks, 1992). In other words, participants form a given social order in which they use the context to interpret what is going on (Heritage & Drew 1992:17-19). Schegloff (1992:192) indicates that in CA what is relevant for the analyst is what is relevant for the participants. Therefore, gender as a variable is only relevant in a given conversation only when participants make it relevant (Tracy, 1998:15). This means that the analyst should not impose his/her beliefs on the data. This is different from the feminist approach which indicates that it is impossible for the analyst to take an objective impartial position, and should be influenced by his/her beliefs and experiences when analyzing the data. Thus, the feminist approach of analysis starts from a certain perspective (Weatherall, 2000: 288). The interactional aspect of conversations can be seen in the use of humour which is a universal human phenomenon found in all societies. Wehmeier et al. (2005:761) define it as "the quantity in something that makes it funny or amusing". Having a sense of humour is a quality that is highly valued in people. A person who does not have a sense of humour is an incomplete person (Wickberg, 1998: 85). Humour indicates solidarity and consensus between speakers. Thus, it is close to positive politeness than to negative politeness strategies of non-imposition. Humour is usually associated with unexpected behaviour, whereas formal
doi:10.21608/bfalex.2013.152634 fatcat:6gvnpmcl7rbqfoxoy57ca5ercq