Humor and disagreement: Identity construction and cross-cultural enrichment


Rania HabibFollow

Document Type





Humor, Teasing; Disagreement; Cross-Cultural Communication; Identity, relational identity display and development (RID); Language Socialization; Educational Tools




In this study, disagreement and humor intertwine to enrich pragmatic and cultural knowledge and display personal identity among near-native users of English in cross-cultural communication. The study adopts ethnography of communication approach to data collection and analysis. My original data consist of three hours of audio-taped interactions among a group of four female friends who come from different countries and are engaged in ordinary social conversations, reflecting on the world through language socialization. The emphasis lies on their use of teasing and disagreement as educational tools rather than conflict indicators and the implementation of these tools to maintain a strong relationship, raise cultural awareness, and gain knowledge of the world. The data show that teasing and disagreement can be used jointly not only to establish relational identity display and development but also to reaffirm a preexisting one and to elaborate on topics that lead to scope expansion and acquisition of new notions that have not been encountered previously. These conversations create an atmosphere for scaffolding and learning, not only about language but also about other cultures and other peoples’ behavior and pragmatics. Out of such socializations, new norms may evolve and new identities may emerge. Therefore, this study intends to encourage teaching L2 in natural settings where students can communicate their ideas freely without any limitations.

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