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научные статьи, монографии и учебники по лингвистике и теории коммуникации

Viacheslav B. Kashkin, Ksenia M. Shilikhina

Narrating Personal Experience and Stereotypes: Discursive Functions of Russian Anekdots

Much recent linguistic work is devoted to different aspects of verbal humor and various speech genres constituting this category. The present paper focuses on anekdots — a specific speech genre which is an important part of contemporary Russian jokelore. By its most obvious function — entertaining and eliciting laughter — anekdot is a component of a large body of texts classified as verbal humor. The structural properties of anekdot make it possible to define it as a culture-specific speech genre with conventionalized text structure and mode of presentation. However, discursive functions of this type of jokes allow us to place them in a wider category of narrative. The article shows how the narrative structure of anekdots reflects their socio-semiotic functions in various discursive communities. Anekdots translate behavioral stereotypes about different social groups, and, as such, can carry a wide range of social meanings. In-group anekdot-telling is aimed at dissociation from existing stereotypes and maintaining group values while out-group performance of anekdots is aimed at enhancing self-esteem. The understandability of a joke depends largely on the social salience of the target group and existing stereotypes about that group. Anekdots may become part of larger narratives and in this case they function as a way of talking about everyday experience. When a real situation is compared to an anekdot, the speaker aims at maintaining her/his negative experience in a humorous way.
Keywords: speech genre, verbal humor, narrative, discursive community, Russian jokelore, stereotypes

Russian Journal of Communication, Vol. 2, Nos. 3/4 (Summer/Fall 2009), pp.250-266

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