Publication details

Saving one’s face from unintended humour : Impression management in follow-up sports interviews



Year of publication 2021
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Journal of Pragmatics
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Keywords unintended humour; broadcast talk; post-match interview; face threat; mitigation; follow-up; metapragmatics
Description This paper explores imperfect communication in public broadcast media arising from a mismatch between a speaker’s communicative intention and the undesirable humorous effect of his/her utterances. Based on a case study of a sports media interview, it focuses on how the interviewee may violate the communicative norms governing the expected responses, and how such a violation, motivated by the desire to avoid personal accountability, generates unintended humour in the media reception framework. Adopting a socio-pragmatic approach, the paper explains how the viral success of a media interview and its humorous reception beyond the original participation framework can come to constitute a face threat for the speaker, whose professional integrity may be at stake due to public laughter and ridicule. The article identifies a specific type of a follow-up media interview that is meant as an attempt at post-factum impression management, its aim being to mitigate the face threat (and damage) caused by undesired forms of reception and unintended humorous consequences. The findings indicate that speakers not only demonstrate meta-pragmatic awareness but also engage in ‘defensive self-reflexivity’, which is an important element in one’s public self-presentation when seeking to rectify the failed seriousness of one’s prior media talk. The study contributes to our understanding of how unintended humour is discursively managed in follow-up verbal interactions in public broadcast media contexts.
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