‘You are stupid, you are cupid’
playful polyphony as a resource for affectionate expression in the talk of a young London couple
Keywords:Couple’s talk, intimate relationships, affectionate practice, voice play, heteroglossia, playful insults, code-switching, Bengali, baby voice
Whereas language and gender studies’ explorations of couples’ talk have tended to focus on collaborative versus competitive conversational style, social psychological work on couples’ intimate relationships has long been driven by an interest in expressions of affection. This paper aims to show that linguistic discourse analysis can make a significant contribution to our understanding of how affection is expressed in intimate relationships. The paper focuses on the playful switching of frames, voices, codes and personas which emerges as central to the affectionate practice in the spontaneous talk of a young multicultural London couple. It argues that quantitative interview studies based on an a priori understanding of affection are unable to capture many of the idiosyncratic and creative ways in which speakers express their affection for one another in their intimate talk.
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