Title: Studying humour from a Conversation Analytic perspective.


Vol. 10(3), 2022, pp. 82-93.



Author: Nimet Çopur

About the author: Dr. Nimet Çopur earned her BA degree from English Language Teaching Department at Hacettepe University, Turkey in 2013. She earned her MA and Ph.D. degrees in Educational and Applied Linguistics from University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the UK. She is currently a Dr. Instructor at Recep Tayyip Erdopan University, School of Foreign Languages.



Author: Cihat Atar

About the author: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Cihat Atar earned his BA in English Language Teaching department at Boğaziçi University, Turkey in 2009. He holds a master’s and Ph.D. degree in Educational and Applied Linguistics from University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the UK. He is an associate professor in English Language Teaching Department at Sakarya University, Turkey. He has been teaching English for ten years and he worked in projects such as Newcastle University Corpus of Academic Spoken English (NUCASE) and Developing a Mobile Application for Hard-of-Hearing Students. Currently, he offers undergraduate and graduate level courses at Sakarya University.




Citation (APA style): Çopur, N., & Atar, C. (2022). Studying humour from a Conversation Analytic perspective. Studies in Linguistics, Culture, and FLT, 10(3), 82-93.


Link: SILC_2022_Vol_10_Issue_3_082-093_12.pdf


Abstract: Humour is a complex and dynamic phenomenon prevalent in social interaction in various settings, such as mundane talk and institutional contexts. It has been a focus of interest in social interaction research for decades. To date, scholars have sought to gain insights regarding what counts as humorous and why we find certain utterances funny (e.g., Carroll, 2014; Bell & Pomerantz, 2016). As such, scholars from various fields ranging from philosophy, sociology, psychology, pragmatics, and linguistics, to name a few, have adopted different approaches in the examination of humour. One of the new perspectives that offers unique insights into humour scholarship is Conversation Analysis (CA) methodology. CA is a method and a research field in itself deriving from ethnomethodology, and it provides valuable opportunities for researchers to investigate humour in interaction. Thus, the main aim of this study is to present Conversation Analysis as a candidate methodology to be used for analysing humour in interaction. It also provides a critical discussion of how CA approaches ‘humour’.

Keywords: Conversation Analysis, Ethnomethodology, humour, humour theories, social interaction



  1. Atkinson, J. M., & Heritage, J. (1984). Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis. Cambridge University Press.
  2. Attardo, S. (1994). Linguistic theories of humor. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  3. Attardo, S. (2001). Humor and irony in interaction: From mode adoption to failure of detection. In L. Anolli, R. Ciceri, & G. Riva (Eds.), Say not to say: New perspectives on miscommunication (pp. 166-185). IOS Press.
  4. Attardo, S., & Raskin, V. (1991). Script theory revis(it)ed: Joke similarity and joke representation model. HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research, 4(3/4), 293-348.
  5. Bell, N. D. (2007). How native and non-native English speakers adapt to humor in intercultural interaction. Humor, 20(1), 27-48.
  6. Bell, N. D., & Pomerantz, A. (2016). Humor in the classroom: A guide for language teachers and educational researchers. Routledge
  7. Carroll, N. (2014). Humor: A very short introduction. Oxford University Press.
  8. Clift, R. (2016). Don’t make me laugh: Responsive laughter in (dis)affiliation. Journal of Pragmatics, 100, 73-88.
  9. Çopur, N., Atar, C., & Walsh, S. (2021). Humour as a pedagogical tool in teacher-initiated repair sequences: The case of extreme case formulations and candidate hearing. Classroom Discourse,12(3), 280-294.
  10. Dynel, M. (2009). Beyond a joke: Types of conversational humour. Language and Linguistics Compass, 3(5), 1284–1299.
  11. Firth, A., & Wagner, J. (1997). On discourse, communication and some fundamental concepts in SLA research. Modern Language Journal, 81(3), 285-300.
  12. Ford, C. E., & Fox, B. A. (2010). Multiple Practices for constructing laughables. In D. Barth-Weingarten, E. Reber, & M. Selting (Eds.), Prosody in Interaction (pp. 339-368). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  13. Forman, R. (2011). Humorous language play in a Thai EFL classroom. Applied Linguistics, 32(5), 541-565.
  14. Gardner, R. (2004). Conversation Analysis. In Davies, A., & Elder, C. (Eds.), The handbook of Applied Linguistics (pp. 262-284). Blackwell Publishing.
  15. Gardner, R., & Wagner, J. (Eds.) (2004). Second Language Conversations. Continuum.
  16. Glenn, P. J. (2003). Laughter in interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  17. Glenn, P., & Holt, E. (2017). Conversation Analysis of humour. In S. Attardo (Ed.), The Routhledge Handbook of Language and Humor (pp. 295-308). New York: Taylor & Francis.
  18. Goffman, E. (1967). Interaction ritual. Anchor Books.
  19. Haakana, M. (2010). Laughter and smiling: Notes on co-occurrences. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(6), 1499-1512.
  20. Haugh, M. (2010). Jocular mockery, (dis)affiliation, and face. Journal of Pragmatics, 42(8), 2106-2119.
  21. Haugh, M. (2016). “Just kidding”: Teasing and claims to non-serious intent. Journal of Pragmatics, 95, 120-136.
  22. Hay, J. (2000). Functions of humor in the conversations of men and women. Journal of Pragmatics, 32(6), 709-742.
  23. Hay, J. (2001). The pragmatics of humor support. Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, 14(1), 55-82.
  24. Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press
  25. Holmes, J., & Marra, M. (2002). Having a laugh at work: how humour contributes to workplace culture. Journal of Pragmatics, 34(12), 1683-1710.
  26. Holmes, J. (2006). Sharing a laugh: Pragmatic aspects of humor and gender in the workplace. Journal of Pragmatics, 38(1), 26-50.
  27. Holmes, J. (2007). Making humour work: Creativity on the job. Applied Linguistics, 28(4), 518-537.
  28. Holt, L. (2012). Using laugh responses to defuse complaints. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 45(4), 430-448.
  29. Hutchby, I., & Wooffitt, R. (2008). Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  30. Jefferson, G. (1979). A technique for inviting laughter and its subsequent acceptance/declination. In G. Psathas (Ed.), Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology. NY: Irvington.
  31. Kaukomaa, T., Peräkylä, A., & Ruusuvuori, J. (2013). Turn-opening smiles: Facial expression constructing emotional transition in conversation. Journal of Pragmatics, 55, 21-42.
  32. Khan, K. R., & Ali, S. S. (2016). To laugh or not to laugh: A critical Discourse Analysis of the humour employed in Khabardaar. The Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 24(1), 25-42.
  33. Kotthoff, H. (2007). Oral genres of humor: On the dialectic of genre knowledge and creative authoring. Pragmatics, 17(2), 263-296.
  34. Lehtimaja, I. (2011). Teacher-oriented address terms in students’ reproach turns. Linguistics and Education, 22(4), 348-363.
  35. Liddicoat, A. J. (2011). An introduction to Conversation Analysis (2nd ed.). London: Continuum.
  36. Lynch, O. H. (2002). Humorous communication: Finding a place for humor in communication research. Communication Theory, 12(4), 423-445.
  37. Martin, R. (2007). The psychology of humor: An integrative approach. Boston, MA: Elsevier Academic Press.
  38. Matsumoto, Y., Lee, J. J., & Kim, E. (2022). “Laughing moments”: The complex negotiation of laughing acts among students and teachers in an English as a second language classroom. Classroom Discourse, 13(1), 32-63.
  39. Moalla, A. (2015). Intercultural strategies to co-construct and interpret humor. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 25(3), 366-385.
  40. Morkes, J., Kernal, H. K., & Nass, C. (1999). Effects of humor in task-oriented human-computer interaction and computer-mediated communication: A direct test of SRCT theory. Human-Computer Interaction, 14(4), 395-435.
  41. Norrick, N. (2010). Humour in interaction. Language and Linguistics, 4(4), 232-244.
  42. Norrick, N. R., & Spitz, A. (2008). Humor as a resource for mitigating conflict in interaction. Journal of Pragmatics, 40(10), 1661-1686.
  43. Raskin, V. (1985). Semantic mechanisms of humor. Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel.
  44. Reddington, E., & Waring, H. Z. (2015). Understanding the sequential resources for doing humor in the language classroom. HUMOR, 28(1), 1-23.
  45. Ritchie, G. (2004). The linguistic analysis of jokes. London: Routledge.
  46. Sacks, H., Schegloff, E. A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language, 50(4), pp. 696-735.
  47. Schegloff, E. A. (1979). The relevance of repair to syntax-for-conversation. In T. Givón (Ed.), Syntax and Semantics volume 12: Discourse and Syntax (pp.261-286). New Academic Press.
  48. Schegloff, E. A. (2007). Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  49. Schnurr, S. (2009). Constructing leader identities through teasing at work. Journal of Pragmatics, 41(6), 1125-1138.
  50. Schnurr, S., & Chan, A. (2011). When laughter is not enough. Responding to teasing and self-denigrating humour at work. Journal of Pragmatics, 43(1), 20-35.
  51. Seedhouse, P. (2004). The interactional architecture of the language classroom: A Conversation Analysis perspective. United Kingdom: Blackwell Publishing.
  52. Sidnell, J. (2010). Conversation Analysis- an introduction. West Sussex, UK: Wiley Blackwell.
  53. Ten Have, P. (2007). Doing conversation analysis. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.
  54. Van Praag, L., Stevens, P., & Van Houtte, M. (2017). How humor makes or breaks student-teacher relationships: A classroom ethnography in Belgium. Teaching and Teacher Education, 66, 393-401.
  55. Wagner, M., & Urios-Aparisi, E. (2011). The use of humor in the foreign language classroom: Funny and effective?. Humor - International Journal of Humor Research, 24(4), 399-434.
  56. Walker, G. (2017). Young children's use of laughter as a means of responding to questions. Journal of Pragmatics, 112, 20-32.
  57. Walsh, S. (2011). Exploring classroom discourse: Language in action. London: Routledge.
  58. Walsh, S. (2013). Classroom discourse and teacher development. Edinburgh University Press.
  59. Walsh, S., & Li, L. (2013). Conversations as space for learning. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 23(2), 247-266.
  60. Warren, C., Barsky, A., & McGraw, A. P. (2020). What Makes Things Funny? An integrative review of the antecedents of laughter and amusement. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 25(1), 41-65.