Cities, conviviality and double-edged language play

De Gruyter Mouton
Publication Type:
Multiple perspectives on language play, 2017, pp. 199 - 218
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Abstract: In this paper we examine different ways in which seemingly joking encounters reconfirm, reinforce and reinscribe participants into particular lines of difference through language play. Our focus here is not only on interactive joking behavior in the workplace but also on the ways in which fellow workers are described, on the significant work that casually humorous language does in making and unmaking boundaries. Metrolingual conviviality, as people engage in everyday multilingual practices, and both celebrate and challenge the diverse environments in which they live and work, is often double-edged. The interaction between fixity (pre-given fixed ascriptions of linguistic and cultural identities and practices) and fluidity (creative linguistic and cultural forces that transgress fixity) that underpins light-hearted banter creates an urban space of doubleedged conviviality, reconfirming, reinforcing, subverting or adjusting the original fixity. Playful language works on multiple levels, both constructing solidarities (of the workplace, masculinity, or ethnicity) and creating potential fissures. This analysis of the complex roles of language play in the making of conviviality sheds light on the different cultural and linguistic tensions at play in the city.
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