英语论文之享受一起笑:礼貌,幽默与性别在工作场所的研究 - 蜂朝网
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英语论文之享受一起笑:礼貌,幽默与性别在工作场所的研究

时间: 2014-03-07 编号:sb201403071172 作者:蜂朝网
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文章摘要:
本文通过礼貌在工作场所通过专注于幽默的话语中性别的调查在厨房设置连接礼貌语言的形式。数据是从一个小规模和短期的民族志研究的学生在诺丁汉大学大厅的厨房进行的。正如人们可以预期,多数参与者是蓝领工人阶级。

1 Introduction


Politeness in the workplace is investigated in this paper via focusing on humorous discourse as a form of linguistic politeness in connection with gender in kitchen setting. Data is taken from a small-scale and short-term ethnographic study in the kitchen of a students’ hall in the University of Nottingham. As one may expect, the majority of participants are blue -collar working class people. Following the recommendation of Mills (2003), humour is emphasized from a community of practice (CofP) perspective(Eckert and McConnell-Ginet, 1992a) as a multi-functional linguistic politeness device (Holmes, 2000a) that conveys complex aspects of feminine and masculine identities depending on different contexts. The role of power is also seriously considered during the analysis, especially when participants are involved in salient asymmetry relationships at workplace interaction. While realizing politeness, humour and gender are interlaced issues in the workplace, it may reasonable to admit that their thorough complicities can never be captured in a single analysis.


2 Background


In terms of gender and politeness, Holmes’ (1995) publication, which generalizes female is more polite than male, is viewed as one of the most influential. Widely cited features of feminine and masculine interactional styles are then summarized in

Holmes’ (2000b) paper (see Appendix 1.). The consideration of gendered stereotypes plays an important role in the analysis essay.

Compared to previous research on general gender differences and politeness universals (Brown and Levinson, 1987), a local approach is becoming more popular. Characterized by three crucial features (Wenger, 1998, p.73), namely mutual engagement, a joint negotiated enterprise and a shared repertoire of negotiate resources, CofP is an influential framework in socio-linguistics to encourage researches ‘look locally’ (Eckert and Mc-Connell-Ginet, 1992b). Furthermore, instead of concentrating on gender difference, many researchers shift their focus to gender performance (Butler, 1990) which believes masculine and feminine are results of people’s performance not predetermined features people obsess. The method integrating CofP and gender performance is employed in this essay.

It is an acceptable idea that being humorous in the workplace probably means not being serious, but not being serious does not necessarily mean humour is not important. In Holmes (2000a) paper, she demonstrates how workplace humorous discourse works as both positive and negative politeness device aiming to satisfy either speaker or hearer’s face needs by drawing on frameworks of ‘face-saving’ politeness theory (Brown and Levinson, 1987) and critical discourse analysis (Van Dijk, 1993, 1998). Especially, when power relationship is salient and discourse reveals speaker intentional doing acts which are injurious to hearer’s face needs, namely face-attack-act (FAA) (Austin, 1990), ‘repressive humour’ (from superior to subordinate) and ‘contestive humour’ (from subordinate to superior) can serve to soften the impact of FAAs. The means that Holmes used to illus-trate how humour functions as multifunctional linguistic politeness strategies strongly affect this essay, whilst Brown and Levinson’s view of politeness universal is rejected by taking CofP into consideration.


3 Methodology


The small scale study adopts a more ethnographic methodology. Recording of spontaneous and natural spoken conversation from authentic workplace interaction, in stead of questionnaire or survey, was used under most circumstances. Cell-phone is used to record discourse since it is difficult to be noticed. Recording was taken when participants were engaged in everyday interaction with one or more interlocutors during the time of working, afternoon tea and lunch break. However, sometimes the workplace noise made recording impossible. In this case, the authortried to write down the utterance as soon as possible so as to minimize memorization limitations. Furthermore, in order to collect as natural and spontaneous data as possible, people were not told being recorded until all the recording is finished. Nonetheless, they have the right to decide whether their utterances are allowed to use or not eventually.

In terms of the CofP framework, the author has worked in this kitchen for approximately four months, and hence probably qualifies being a more than peripheral members of this particularCofP. Following one of the three Mills (2003) suggestions that articulating that the ethnographic details should be taken into analyst’s consideration, the author also uses the anecdotes gained from work which indeed significantly aided the analysis. Whilst both Holmes and Schnurr (2005) and Mullany (2006) confirming analyst should not avoid their own judgment or evaluation in analysis, some informal interviews investigating about people’s real intention were still conducted. Even though ordinary people do not have professional knowledge of investigating their politeness intention or not consciously aware about their gendered roles they perform in conversations, the interviews still helped in fully understanding the discourse and getting rid of some cultural obstacles (the author is an non-native English speaker). Four talks involving from two to four mixed sex participants are selected to provide a comparatively detailed qualitative analysis of humour as gendered discourse as well as a form of linguistic politeness.

4 Analysis

Excerpt 1.

The afternoon before the formal dinner Daisy was working alone at the washing area of kitchen. Three chefs had almost done their work, and the team-leader David came to help. This is the conversation during the washing process.

1) David: I am coming to help.

2) Daisy: Oh, actually I am fine.

3) David: You are not fine. I said I was coming to help

4) so you should say thank you {with a smiling voice}.

5) Daisy: All right. (Chuckle) Ohm…Thank you so much,Dave. ((laughs))

6) David: I’ll do the scratching part. I love scratching.

7) Mark, could you pass me the pot if you want?

8) Mark: //Right//.

9) Daisy: //Oh, may I do it// I wear gloves (.) the chemicals,//you know//

10) David: //I wear gloves too in cold winter// keep me warm((Laughter from Mark and Daisy))

11) Daisy: It’s banned. //it’s difficult//

12) David: //I am banned too// especially at night((General Laughter))

[Adam came to throw away some chickens]

13) David: You’re going to drive me bankrupt, Adam.{exaggerated surprising voice}

14) Adam: not for a big banker. ((General Laughter))

[After working tensely]

15) David: I do like your earring. Little skull (.) makes you like a witch.

16) Daisy: oh, thank you, a witch. ((Laugher))

At line 3, 4, 10, 11, team-leader David indirectly but insistently requests Daisy to work at another part of washing area and tries to get everything done before the formal dinner. Motivated by politeness, David uses humour to hedge the order directing to the hearer’s negative face. The utterances like ‘you should say thank you’, ‘I wear gloves too in cold winter’ and ‘I am banned too’ not only show his positive concerns for Daisy together with his good will of finishing the task together even though the scratching part is difficult, but also indicate that Daisy should go to do another part without rebutment. In other words, David employs humour as and negative politeness strategy attempting to soften the impact of order and to easy the situation. Humour helps to maintain good relationship between the two of different power and avoids overt display of authority power.

At line 13, David’s intention is to blame Adam because he wastes a lot during cooking. As a superior, he employs humor as an available strategy to attenuate face attack of his critical comments (FAA) without causing negative impact, hopefully. This is a typical what Holmes (2000a) defined ‘repressive humour’. Interestingly, at line 14 Adam seems not satisfied with David’s comment, and returns a ‘contestive humour’ in a sarcastic way. One has to realize reality that in this kitchen every chef wastes including David himself before he/she can decode Adam’s intention.

It is to challenge the validity and authority of the comment in an acceptable way of humour. Although Adam takes David’s positive face into consideration, this kind of contestive humour is sometimes risky in this CofP.

During the previous interaction, it is obvious that through drawing on a stereotypically masculine interactional style (i.e. direct, aggressive interruption, competitive etc) David performs a masculine identity of a decisive leader. After working tensely, however, David surprisingly offers a complements on Daisy’s appearance, which is believed as stereotypically feminine politeness behaviour showing respect to hearer’s positive face need(Holmes, 1995). ‘Like a witch’ is clearly perceived as a funny compliment by Daisy, so that she laughs and echoes the word ‘witch’, although perceiving ‘witch’ as a compliment may not be true out of this CofP. In a word, this humorous utterance takes distinctively feminine form to create team and collegiality between interlocutors.

Excerpt 2.

During the tea break, four male and two female workers were complaining about the new rule which said kitchen staff must take their own food from August 1st.

1) Mark: We are going to have to cancel the Caribbean and go to Skeggness(.)going out.

2) ((General laughter))

3) Julio: That was fucking funny. (Laughter)Yeah.

Excerpt 3.

4) Daisy: It’s quiet here today.

5) Mark: cos Adam is off today. You know he is… {Make a face}((Both laugh))

6) Daisy: True.

Excerpt 2 & 3 are about how Mark uses humour as a positive politeness device to satisfy hearers’ positive face need and show collegiality from two different ways. In excerpt 2, humour directs at the university organization who announced kitchen staff must bring their own food from August 1st. At line 1, Mark actually exaggerated complains that the policy will drive the staff into a miserable life condition. To understand the utterance, it is important to know that we talk about go to Caribbean and enjoy the sunshine frequently in bad weather. Mark suggests it must be too expensive for us to go to Caribbean because of the policy, and a small city in Britain called Skeggness which is famous for its cheap, dirty and bad weather would be our choice instead. By drawing on background knowledge about Caribbean, Mark’s humour directs to an outsider (the organization) to this CofP illustrating the function of humour in showing solidarity, and emphasizing in-group membership. Mark’s utterance is in a stereotypically masculine way characterized by direct and assertiveness. It is strongly agreed by Julio at line 2 in an ‘in tune’ way (Holmes, 2000a, p.169) by using a shocking expletive word ‘fucking’, which probably also indicates in -group harmony (Daly et al, 2004).In expert 3, at line 5, Mark uses an uncompleted sentence to express shared criticisms and understanding of Adam to increase solidarity with Daisy. Adam is well-known for his naughty at workplace interaction in this CofP. It is typical and common for this particular CofP producing this kind of implicitly humour. It may worth to mention that in the CofP this particular expression does not necessarily mean malicious or impolite to Adam. In one interview Adam considers such humorous criticism or little jocular insult stems from familiarity. Even to him, it expresses solidarity, and hence a positive politeness marker.

Excerpt 4.

One female and two males (main contributors) talked during lunch break about the theme of formal dinner. James bond theme was mentioned.

1)Sue: I am going to wear chef dress anyway.

2)Adam: (laughter) who’ll wear bikini?

3)Sue: We did have a James Bond night years ago and girl

wore bikini.

4)Adam: Oh, no, I wish I were there. All the girls wore bikini.

5)Sue: (Laughter)

6)Adam: What are you going to wear at a Bond?

7)Sue: Well, I don’t know. I don’t really want a Bond.

8)Adam: //while I want a Bond// I would went outside and

check that shit out. I don’t care.

9)Sue: (Laughter)… //I want a Hawaii night//

10)Mark: xxx a pouch xxx

11)Adam: //Oh, a Hawaii night//

11)Mark: //I am going to a James Bond night//, you know, M.

12)Adam: M who is M?

13)Sue: woman, M, the woman.

14)Mark: (Laughter)…

15)Adam: Is it a new ad on TV, Mr. T….It does funny. Mr.T he’s in an army tank into a football game and said get some nuts. {Mimicking Mr. T’s voice in the ad}. ((Laughter))

Humour among the people with little power difference in this interaction clearly serves to foster solidarity and contributes to the maintenance of harmonious relationship within fellow workers. A competitive floor developed in this group involving more males echoes the conclusion of Holmes (2006a) conclusion that minimal collaborative and completive floor tend to form in groups consist of only male or male predominated. It seems that participants prefer to conduct their own floor instead of building on others. Adam plays an important role in the interaction, and performs and reconstitutes his gender identity during the process.

For one thing, by talking about the girls who wore bikini and displaying his eager to attend a Bond night in order to see girls wearing bikini walking around, Adam emphasizes the fact that he is heterosexual as oppose to homosexual. As a matter of fact,Adam frequently mimics some of gay’s behaviour ironically in the workplace which reveals his negative feelings. In the interview that I asked his real feeling about gay, he reckoned that being a gay was ‘a little bit dirty for a man’, and he would not allow them to touch him. Cameron (1997) suggests that not being homosexual is as important as not being a woman in all male groups. To Adam, not being a homosexual is important in mixed gender group as well in this CofP. For another, both James Bond and Mr. T are typically masculine models. Bond’s image illustrating male’s grace, problem-solving abilities as well as male’s sexual charm for women more fits in with the Connell’s conception (1995) of upper-middle-class ‘technical masculine’, while Mr. T who is a extremely well-built black man and famous for his tough fitting in with working-class ‘physical masculine’. In the snicker advertisement,Mr. T drives an army tank into a football game and throws a snicker into the face of a wounded football player while saying ‘gets some nuts’ (the archives of Mr. T and this snicker advertisement are available at. Adam said in an interview ‘Mr. T in a tank, nothing beats it’. His preference for this snicker advertisement which synthesizes two typical masculine genres, namely army and football, essentially reflects his own masculinity he persists in.


5 Discussion


The analysis of humour in kitchen setting opens up a set of interesting issues of politeness, humour and gender. Through all the four excerpts, humour is always intended to amuse. Under most occasions, people choose humour as positive or negative politeness to create solidarity, hedge face-threatening-acts and to build social cohesion. When asymmetric institutional power is salient, however, the means that humour functions in negotiating relationships becomes more complex. David and Adam’s interaction demonstrates this complicity to some degree. Repressive humour, which from David downwards to Adam and disguises for a less acceptable message of blame, license deliberately face -threatening behaviour. Competitively, contestive humour, which from Adam upwards to David embeds risky proposition in a superficially innocuous and unaccountable humorous utterance revealing negative affection. In this CofP, using the tactic of repressive humour is frequently employed by the superior as a mitigation strategy to gain the compliance of their subordinates, whilst using contestive humour subtly challenges to the existing authority structure is sometimes risky.

Tannen (1994) states the very notion of authority relates to masculinity. In both Holmes (2006b, p.54) case study of ‘Queen Clara’ and Mullany (2006, p69) study of ‘bossy Amy’, they provide evidence that women leaders sometimes reject the stereotypically feminine way of interaction and conduct a more conventionally masculine identity to do leadership efficiently. It is also interesting to consider how David, a male, performs gender identity through humour when doing his leadership. Clearly, besides the stereotypically masculine way, David also employs stereotypically feminine style (i.e. complement) showing positive politeness, hence decrease social distance and create collegiality. In fact, in everyday interaction in the workplace, David frequently uses conventionally feminine interaction style, such as using hedges and tag questions, especially during private interaction. David, being a rational, efficient, and professional white -collar team - leader, obviously performs masculine and feminine identity not only based on his gender. He does both to serve his ends and to match his other social, class, personal identities in different context. Solidarity, power, and gender are all activated in his humour. It is maybe true that efficient leadership communication includes both stereotypically male and female types of interaction, which means gender balance is exhibited and valued (Sinclair, 1998).

Comparatively, Adam constantly produces and enhances his masculinity in this CofP. He is an evidence of Marlowe’s statement (1989) that men favour sexual and aggressive humour, as oppose to the tension-released collaborative humour building on others which is more favoured by women (Crawford, 1989, p.159; Kotthoff, 2000, p.79).

Furthermore, beyond the limited recording material and based on the author’s everyday observation, it may reasonable to mention in this specific CofP constantly joking around, small insult, and frequent use of expletive word in humour discourse express positive politeness and signals solidarity and collegiality amongst the team in most cases. Thus Holmes and Stubbe’s finding (2002), the blend of humour, jocular abuse and practical jokes may contribute to a unique workplace culture and help to foster positive relationships, seems agreeable.

To sum up, workplace humour serves a wide range of functions in the workplace communication, in which fostering solidarity is one of the most significant and most applied. Workplace humour also offers an excellent exhibition of the way colleagues in workplace using discourse to negotiate complex aspects of their social identities including gender identity. In specific CofP, drawing on institutional power and workplace ideology, men and women construct, enact and reinforced masculine and feminine interactional norms at times, while challenge and subvert those norms on other occasions. Lastly, particular CofP seems to favour particular kinds of humour, which is not only constrained by unique workplace culture, but also a significant part contributes to it.


6 Conclusion


In conclusion, by drawing on data based on interactions recorded in a university student hall’s kitchen, this essay explores some of the diverse functions of humour as a form of politeness and explains how gender identity is dynamically conducted, maintained, challenged and subverted in different humorous discourse from the CofP perspective. Although it is satisfying to generalize some trends via the data analysis, it is impor-tant to announce that the reality of CofP is far more complicated than these trends suggests. Therefore the conclusions are merely suggestive. It is evidently that politeness, humour and gender are intricate issues requiring more in -depth context -based ethnographic studies.


Appendix 1:


Widely cited features of feminine and masculine interactional styles (adapt from Holmes 2000b, cited in Holmes, 2006b, p6)


References:


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[26] Mr.T’s archives and the snicker ‘get some nuts’ advertisement(2007). available at


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