‘You are stupid, you are cupid’

playful polyphony as a resource for affectionate expression in the talk of a young London couple

Authors

  • Pia Pichler Goldsmiths, University of London

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.25586

Keywords:

Couple’s talk, intimate relationships, affectionate practice, voice play, heteroglossia, playful insults, code-switching, Bengali, baby voice

Abstract

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.

Author Biography

Pia Pichler, Goldsmiths, University of London

Pia Pichler is a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and convenor of the MA Sociocultural Linguistics at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is interested in linguistic/discourse analytic investigations of identity in everyday spontaneous interaction, focusing on indexicality, humour and the interplay of micro and macro-identities such as gender, ethnicity and social class. Publications include ‘Hipsters in the hood: authenticating indexicalities in young men’s hip hop talk’ (with Nathanael Williams, Language in Society 45 (5): 557-581, 2016); Talking Young Femininities (Palgrave, 2009, shortlisted for IGALA book prize 2010); Language & Gender: A Reader, co-edited with Jennifer Coates (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011); Gender & Spoken Interaction, co-edited with Eva Eppler (Palgrave, 2009).

References

Bakhtin, Mikhail ([1935] 1981) Discourse in the novel (trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist). In Michael Holquist (ed.) The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M. Bakhtin 269–422. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Barbara, Gawda (2008) Gender differences in verbal expressions of love schema. Sex Roles 58: 814–21. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-008-9404-8

Bateson, Gregory ([1972]1987) A theory of play and fantasy. In Gregory Bateson Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution and Epistemology 177–93. London: Jason Aronson.

Baxter, Judith (2014) Double-voicing at Work. Power, Gender and Linguistic Expertise. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137348531

Beach, Wayne A. and Glenn, Phillip (2011) Bids and responses to intimacy as ‘gendered’ enactments’. In Susan A. Speer and Elizabeth Stokoe (eds) Conversation and Gender 210–28. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511781032.011

Buss, David (2006) The evolution of love. In Robert J Sternberg and Karin Weis (eds) The New Psychology of Love 65–86. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Cameron, Deborah (1997) Performing gender identity: young men’s talk and the construction of heterosexual masculinity. In Sally Johnson and Ulrike Hanna Meinhof (eds) Language and Masculinity 47–64. Oxford: Blackwell.

Channell, Joanna (1997) ‘I just called to say I love you’: love and desire on the telephone. In Keith Harvey and Celia Shalom (eds) Language and Desire. Encoding Sex, Romance and Intimacy 143–70. London: Routledge.

Coates, Jennifer (1996) Women Talk: Conversation between Women Friends. Oxford: Blackwell.

Darwin, Charles ([1872]1965) The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

DeFrancisco, Victoria Leto (1991) The sounds of silence: how men silence women in marital relations. Discourse and Society 2(4): 413–24. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926591002004003

Eckert, Penelope (1993) Cooperative competition in adolescent ‘girl talk’ In Deborah Tannen (ed.) Gender and Conversational Interaction 32–61. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Eckert, Penelope and McConnell-Ginet, Sally (1992) Think practically and look locally: language and gender as community-based practice. Annual Review of Anthropology 21: 461–90. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.21.100192.002333

Eder, Donna (1990) Serious and playful disputes: variation in conflict talk among female adolescents. In Allen Grimshaw (ed.) Conflict Talk 67–84. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ekman, Paul and Friesen, Wallace V. (1971) Constants across cultures in the face and emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 17: 124–9. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0030377

Eppler, Eva (2009) Four women, two codes and one (crowded) floor: the joint construction of a bilingual collaborative floor. In Pia Pichler and Eva Eppler (eds) Gender and Spoken Interaction 211–34. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230280748_10

Evaldson, Ann-Carita (2005) Staging insults and mobilizing categorizations in a multi-ethnic peer group. Discourse and Society 16(6): 763–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926505056663

Fishman, Pamela (1980) Interactional shitwork. Hersies 2: 99–101.

Floyd, Kory (2006) Communicating Affection: Interpersonal Behavior and Social Context. New York: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606649

Goffman, Erving (1974) Frame Analysis. New York: Harper & Row.

Goffman, Erving (1981) Forms of Talk. Oxford: Blackwell.

Goodwin, Marjorie Harness (1990) He-Said-She-Said: Talk as Social Organisation among Black Children. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Goodwin, Marjorie Harness (2006) The Hidden Life of Girls: Games of Stance, Status, and Exclusion. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1002/9780470773567

Goodwin, Marjorie Harness (2014) The embodied interactive constitution of intimacy. Plenary paper, 8th International Gender and Language Association (IGALA) Conference, Vancouver, Canada.

Goodwin, Marjorie Harness, Cekaite, Asta and Goodwin, Charles (2012) Emotion as stance. In Marja-Leena Sorjonen and Anssi Peräkylä (eds) Emotion in Interaction 16–41. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199730735.003.0002

Gumperz, John (1982) Discourse Strategies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511611834

Harrison, Marissa A. and Shortall, Jennifer C. (2011) Women and men in love: who really feels it and says it first? The Journal of Social Psychology 151(6): 727–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224545.2010.522626

Hasund, Ingrid Kristine and Stenström, Anna-Brita (1997) Conflict talk: a comparison of the verbal disputes between adolescent females in two corpora. In Corpus-Based Studies in English: Papers from the Seventeenth International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora 119–33. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Huston, Ted L. and Vangelisti, Anita L. (1991) Socioemotional behaviour and satisfaction in marital relationships: a longitudinal study Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 61(5): 721–33. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.61.5.721

Jaffe, Alexandra, Koven, Michele, Perrino, Sabina and Vigoroux, Cecile B. (2015) Introduction: heteroglossia, performance, power and participation. Language in Society 44: 135–9. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404515000019

Jefferson, Gail, Sacks, Harvey and Schegloff, Emanuel (1978) Note on laughter in the pursuit of intimacy. In G. Button and J. Lee (eds) Talk and Social Organisation 152–205. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Keim, Inken (2007) Socio-cultural identity, communicative style, and their change over time: A case study of a group of German–Turkish girls in Mannheim/Germany. In Peter Auer (ed.) Style and Social Identities. Alternative Approaches to Linguistic Heterogeneity 155–86. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Kollock, Peter, Blumstein, Philip and Schwarz, Pepper (1985) Sex and power in interaction: Conversational privileges and duties. American Sociological Review 50: 34–46. https://doi.org/10.2307/2095338

Kuiper, Koenraad (1998) Sporting formulae in New Zealand English: two models of male solidarity. In Jennifer Coates (ed.) Language and Gender: A Reader 285–93. Oxford: Blackwell.

Labov, William (1972) Rules for ritual insults. In William Labov Language in the Inner City 297–353. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Langford, Wendy (1997) ‘Bunnikins, I love you snugly in your warren’: voices from subterranean cultures of love. In Keith Harvey and Celia Shalom (eds) Language and Desire. Encoding Sex, Romance and Intimacy 170–85. London: Routledge.

Mandelbaum, Jenny (2003) Interactive methods for constructing relationships. In Phillip J. Glenn, Curtis D. LeBaron and Jenny Mandelbaum (eds) Studies in Language and Social Interaction. In honour of Robert Hopper 207–19. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Maybin, Janet (2006) Children’s Voices. Talk, Knowledge and Identity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230511958

Osborne, John (1957) Look Back in Anger. London: Faber & Faber.

Pichler, Pia (2006) Multifunctional teasing as a resource for identity construction. Journal of Sociolinguistics 10(2): 226–50. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-6441.2006.00326.x

Pichler, Pia (2009) Talking Young Femininities. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230234598

Piller, Ingrid (2002) Bilingual Couples Talk: The Discursive Construction of Hybridity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. https://doi.org/10.1075/sibil.25

Schoenfield, Elizabeth A., Bredow, Carrie A., Huston, Ted L. (2012) Do men and women show love differently in marriage? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 38(11): 1396–409. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167212450739

Schwegler, Armin (2007) Black ritual insulting in the Americas: on the art of ‘vociferar’ (Colombia), ‘vacilar’ (Ecuador) and ‘snaing’, ‘sounding’ or ‘playing the dozens’. Indiana 42: 107–55.

Sheldon, Amy (1997) Talking power: girls, gender enculturation and discourse. In Ruth Wodak (ed.) Gender and Discourse 225–44. London: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446250204.n10

Straehle, Carolyn A. (1993) ‘Samuel?’ ‘Yes, dear?’ Teasing and conversational rapport. In Deborah Tannen (ed.) Framing in Discourse 210–30. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sunderland, Jane (2004) Gendered Discourses. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230505582

Talbot, Mary (1992) ‘I wish you’d stop interrupting me!’ Interruptions and asymmetries in speaker-rights in equal encounters. Journal of Pragmatics 18: 451–66. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(92)90084-O

Tannen, Deborah (1990) You Just Don’t Understand: Women and Men in Conversation. London: Virago Press.

Tannen, Deborah (ed.) (1993) Framing in Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tannen, Deborah (2004) Talking the dog: farming pets and Interactional resources in family discourse. Research on Language and Social Interaction 37(4): 399–420. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327973rlsi3704_1

Tannen, Deborah and Wallat, Cynthia (1993) Interactive frames and knowledge schemas in interaction: examples from a medical examination/interview. In Deborah Tannen (ed.) Framing in Discourse 57–76. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Troemel-Ploetz, Senta (1991) Selling the apolitical: review of Deborah Tannen’s You Just Don’t Understand. Discourse and Society 2(4): 489–502. https://doi.org/10.1177/
0957926591002004009

Wetherell, Margaret (2012) Affect and Emotion: A New Social Science Understanding. London: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781446250945

Published

2017-06-20

How to Cite

Pichler, P. (2017). ‘You are stupid, you are cupid’: playful polyphony as a resource for affectionate expression in the talk of a young London couple. Gender and Language, 11(2), 153–175. https://doi.org/10.1558/genl.25586

Issue

Section

Articles