No Aggression, Only Teasing: The Pragmatics of Teasing and Banter
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A bone of contention among researchers is whether the primary function of humour is the expression of aggression against the hearer or the promotion of solidarity between the interlocutors. It is commonly averred that teasing boasts a dichotomous nature, i.e. malignant and benevolent. The former coincides with the potential for criticising, mocking and ostracising the interlocutor, whereas the latter accounts for playfulness and bonding capacity.The overriding goal of the paper is to expound the rapport-building function, which is here postulated to be inherent to teasing. First and foremost, I will determine the scope of interest differentiating between putdown humour and teases, which may assume the form of retorts and develop into multi-turn teases, i.e. banter. Subtypes of teasing will be discussed with a view to proving that it is inherently devoid of genuine aggressiveness. The underlying premise is that teases, even if ostensibly aggressive, i.e. face-threatening, are geared towards solidarity, in conformity with the framework of politeness, including mock impoliteness, holding between intimates. Also, teases fulfil a few subordinate functions such as defunctionalisation or mitigation of face-threatening messages they may carry.
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