Eesti rahvussport – suurtest narratiividest variatiivse ja humoorika/iroonilise rahvaretoorikani
‘THE NATIONAL SPORT OF ESTONIA’: FROM BIG NARRATIVES TO VARIEGATED AND HUMOROUS/IRONIC COLLOQUIAL RHETORIC
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The paper focuses on the usage of phrases connected to both the serious and humorous representation of (new) Estonian national sports in Estonian online media in the past few years. I suggest to differentiate between official/formal/serious and unofficial/informal/humorous fields of sport, where at one end of the scale there are sports that are based on long historical, cultural, and geographical traditions (wrestling, cross-country skiing, etc.), in which Estonian sportsmen have received international recognition and which have always attracted a big number of amateurs, professionals, and fans. At the other end, there are those “pseudo-sports” that are, above all, expressions of folk creativity; these appear as elements of linguistic-folkloric communication. Within this discourse, a new national sport may be throwing oneself in front of a moving car, picking mushrooms, cursing politicians, laying off workers, spotting speeders in unmarked police vehicles, drinking oneself to death, etc. These are used to bring out the local, stereotypical features of the nation. The tendency of linking specific fields of sport to the ethnic dimension is motivated by the mechanisms of identity creation. At the same time, it points to the cultural importance of sports. Such ironic rhetoric may have a universal dimension. The purpose of the article is to describe and explain these fields of meaning, focusing on the variations and humorous aspects in the data. Sports as such loses its significance in the process and the emotional, stereotype-based and self-ironical point of view prevails. The source data of this study were collected by employing various methods and study environments. The main source comprises 250 responses to a short questionnaire carried out in spring 2017 via forms or handwritten pages. The main result of the analysis reveals how differently Estonians feel about the national sport of their country. The variegated palette of opinions from the responses received pursuant to the survey plan is enriched by the usage traditions established via Internet media. Statistically it is possible to determine the most popular sport among serious or humorous sport disciplines, but there will most likely never be consensus about a favourite sport. Any attempts to forcefully establish a discipline of this kind are clearly useless. In rhetorical discourse the conjuring up of new elements is the aim. Here the general denomination of the ‘national sport of Estonia’ works as a cliché that is constantly being reloaded with new and humorous subject matter in compliance with new socio-cultural conditions. Ethnic self-ridicule becomes a source of abundant improvisation. The favourites in ironic discourse are armchair sport, going to the sauna, and consuming alcohol. Negative addictive behaviour (be it drinking, being a workaholic, violating traffic regulations or something else) stands out as a separate sub-form of national sport. Negative forms of communication (being jealous of your neighbour, intolerance of others, etc.) and personal characteristics that are considered to be stereotypically ethnic (desperation, worrying, bearing a grudge) form an independent subgroup of ethnic self-ridicule. At the same time, there are also neutral (sometimes even positive) activities among humorous elements, such as seasonal activities, e.g. mushrooming and photographing icicles. The great variety of the cliché “The national sport of Estonia is...”, which is so relevant and popular, is testament to the potential of the linguistic creative processes of Estonians, accompanied by playful and entertaining goals driven by joy and merriment.
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