|Author(s)||Michael Haugh, Lara Weinglass|
|Title||Divided by a common language? Jocular quips and (non-)affiliative responses in initial interactions amongst American and Australian speakers of English|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, quips, affiliation, initial interactions, conversation analysis, interactional pragmatics, American English, Australian English|
Studies of conversational humour in intercultural settings have focused largely on illustrating how participants can successfully draw on humour to build rapport. However, it is nevertheless clear that attempts at humour can also go awry in settings in which participants come from different cultural backgrounds. In this paper, we focus on the responses of American and Australian participants to playful or light-hearted comments on, or responses to, another speaker’s just prior serious talk, which are designed to initiate a non-serious side sequence, or what we term “jocular quips”. Drawing from a comparative analysis of thirty recordings of initial interactions involving participants from ostensibly the same (AmAm; AusAus) and different (AmAus) backgrounds, we report our finding that affiliative responses to jocular quips are more prevalent in the “intracultural” dyads (AmAm, AusAus), while non-affiliative responses are more frequent in the “intercultural” dyads (AmAus). We suggest this is due to troubles in accomplishing particularistic co-membership and shared critical, mocking attitudes that are attributed to, or directed at that category. We conclude that Americans and Australians are not “divided by a common language” as such, but rather that affiliating with jocular quips in initial interactions is contingent on the locally situated accomplishment of particular membership categories and predicates associated with these categories.