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Making the threatening other laughable: Ambiguous performances of urban vernaculars in Swedish media

Journal article
Authors Rickard Jonsson
Anna Gradin Franzén
Tommaso M. Milani
Published in Language & Communication
Volume 71
Pages 1-15
ISSN 0271-5309
Publication year 2020
Published at Department of Swedish
Pages 1-15
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langcom.2...
Subject categories General Language Studies and Linguistics, Languages and Literature, Media and Communications

Abstract

The threatening young man who speaks Rinkeby Swedish has become a culturally recognizable ‘figure of personhood’ (Agha, 2007) of linguistic and ethnic otherness in Sweden. Drawing upon Billig's theory of humour, we illustrate how this characterological persona is not monolithic; nor does it remain uncontested but is constantly being (re)negotiated in the media. By drawing attention to those humorous performances that rhetorically make fun of entrenched stereotypes, the article explores the subversive, as well as disciplinary, potentials of this kind of humour. Read together, the examples in this article indicate that the ‘exemplary speaker’ (Androutsopoulos, 2016) of Swedish contemporary urban vernaculars can be laughed at and with but cannot easily be fixed into a unified homogenous figure.

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