Prosodic and Multimodal Markers of Humor

handbook humorGironzetti, E. (2017). Prosodic and Multimodal Markers of Humor. In Attardo, S. (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Language and Humor (235–254). New York – London: Routledge.

Read the chapter “Prosodic and Multimodal Markers of Humor”




This chapter provides an overview of existing studies on markers of humor, including prosody, laughter, and other paralinguistic phenomena, such as smiling, ranging from Sacks’s pioneer study on the telling of a joke, to recent experimental studies on the prosodic markers of humor in conversation, to the role of laughter and other multimodal  cues as possible markers of humor. The chapter moves from a “linguocentric” approach to discourse analysis (Erickson, 2004) towards a multimedia approach capable of offering a more ecologically valid picture of humorous discourse. The issue at stake is whether and how the presence of humor is signaled prosodically and/or by means of other multimodal non-linguistic signals in conversation. A sample data analysis of a fragment of conversational humor within a multimodal discourse analysis framework is also provided to illustrate recent advances in the field and introduce the reader to possible future lines of research.

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