Gender and Language, Vol 11, No 2 (2017)

The playful and gendered use of insults and criticisms in romantic couples’ everyday banter

Neill Korobov
Issued Date: 20 Jun 2017


The present study focuses on the gendered and playful ways that insults and criticisms are formulated by young adult romantic couples in their natural interactional contexts. A discourse analytic approach was used to examine how twenty young adult heterosexual romantic couples (ages 19–26) use gender to playfully pursue insults and criticisms in their natural ecological contexts. This study is motivated by a burgeoning arena of research that suggests that conflicts among contemporary young adults may often be sociable in nature, and thus may not pose the kind of adversarial face-threats for young adult intimates in the ways that would be traditionally expected. The analyses demonstrate three conspicuous patterns. First, that the vast majority of the insults and criticisms are gendered. Second, that nearly all of the excerpts involve the creative use of various forms of irony, laughter, rekeyings, abrupt non-sequiturs and topic shifts to allow the gendered insults/criticisms to appear playful. And finally, the analyses show how these gendered and playful insults/criticisms are consequential as preliminaries for affiliation.

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DOI: 10.1558/genl.26777


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