Jocular mockery in computer-mediated communication: a contrastive study of a Spanish and English Facebook community

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Understood as an umbrella term covering different phenomena (e.g., banter, teasing, jocular insults, etc.), mock impoliteness has long attracted the attention of scholars. However, most of this research has concentrated on English while other languages have been neglected. In addition, previous research has mostly analyzed face-to-face interaction, generally ignoring computer-mediated communication. This paper aims to redress this imbalance by analyzing a particular case of mock impoliteness – i.e., jocular mockery - in two Facebook communities (Spanish and English). More specifically, and following Haugh’s (2010) and Haugh and Bousfield’s (2012) three inter-related dimensions, this paper intends to answer three questions: (i) what triggers jocular mockery in each corpus? (ii) How is it “framed”? And (iii) how do interlocutors respond to it? To this end, two balanced datasets were gathered: one in (British) English and one in (Peninsular) Spanish, consisting of 6,215 and 6,193 words respectively. Results show that jocular mockery is pervasive in both datasets and both British and Spanish users resort to it when confronted with bragging. Likewise, both groups borrow framing strategies from face-to-face communication but also employ other means afforded by Facebook itself. They also opt for accepting it good-naturedly as a way to boost group rapport.
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