University of Oulu

Handling Linguistic Asymmetries via Bilingual Punning in Conversations among Speakers of Cognate Languages. Härmävaara, Hanna-Ilona / Frick, Maria. Crossing Languages to Play with Words : Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Edited by Knospe, Sebastian / Onysko, Alexander / Goth, Maik. De Gruyter 2016 Pages: 113–134 ISBN (Online): 9783110465600 DOI (Chapter):

Handling linguistic asymmetries via bilingual punning in conversations among speakers of cognate languages

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Author: Härmävaara, Hanna-Ilona1; Frick, Maria2
Organizations: 1University of Helsinki
2University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
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Language: English
Published: De Gruyter, 2016
Publish Date: 2018-01-29


This paper explores the use of bilingual punning in multilingual multiparty conversations among speakers with asymmetric language skills. The data of the study is drawn from video-recorded mundane peer conversations among Finns and Estonians. In this data, participants often use their respective mother tongues while talking to each other, even though only some of them have an active command of both cognate languages. The analysis of the data revealed that bilingual punning is used in these conversations among other things for dealing with the speakers’ asymmetric language skills and asymmetric access to the ongoing talk. Punning typically occurs in sequences, in which participants teach each other words and in which problems of understanding are expressed. Puns can be used for both indicating and treating problems in understanding, and they are used for sharing linguistic knowledge. Puns can also help close prolonged and problematic sequences in an affiliative way. Punning provides the participants with a means of sharing positive affects even in interactionally problematic situations.

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ISBN: 978-3-11-046560-0 978-3-11-046347-7
ISBN Print: 978-3-11-046309-5
Pages: 113 - 134
DOI: 10.1515/9783110465600-008
Host publication: Crossing languages to play with words : Multidisciplinary perspectives
Host publication editor: Knospe, Sebastian
Onysko, Alexander
Goth, Maik
Type of Publication: A3 Book chapter
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Copyright information: © 2016 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston. CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0.