The humorous display of transgressor feminities: ‘sharing a laugh’ in Spanish/Galician friendly talk among young women


  • A. Virginia Acuña Ferreira University of Vigo



Gender, Conversational Humour, Female Conversation, MasculineHumour, Transgressor Feminities


Over the last years, research on gender and conversational humour has demonstrated, contrary to popular beliefs and social stereotypes, that this mode of discourse is not only ‘men’s work’, but it can be performed both in feminine and masculine ways; so, while there is a masculine humour which is creative, competitive and playful, focused on entertainment as a strategy to reinforce bonds, there is also a feminine humour, which is supportive, intimate and subversive in relation to gender norms, generally oriented to the construction of female solidarity. In this article, I aim to address gender crossing phenomena (Thorne, 1993) in conversational humour, by analysing excerpts from a friendly interaction among Spanish/Galician bilingual young women. The analysis places emphasis on the participants’ practice of genres and styles of humour which are masculinised, as they require a demonstration of creative and competitive abilities for verbal play, which is generally oriented to the idea of ‘sharing a laugh’ as a strategy to reinforce bonds. Thus, it is argued that female participants in this conversation produce different forms of masculine humour, and that this entails a notable break with norms of conventional femininity, a gender crossing phenomena based on this mode of discourse. Generally, this article calls attention to the multiple links that still exist between stereotypical ‘men’s talk’ and humour as entertainment, and on the power of such ways of interacting as a sound base for women’s implicit displays of transgressor femininities.

Author Biography

A. Virginia Acuña Ferreira, University of Vigo

A. Virginia Acuña Ferreira is Teaching Fellow of Spanish language and Linguistics at the Universidad Internacional de La Rioja-UNIR, and also collaborates with the Master’s programme ‘Linguistics and its applications’ of the Universidade de Vigo by teaching Sociolinguistics. Her research interests include gendered discourse and the analysis of conversational interaction in Spanish/ Galician. She is the author of two recent books on gender display in everyday conversation among speakers from Galicia, Género y discurso. Las mujeres y los hombres en la interacción conversacional (Lincom, 2009), and La realización de quejas en la conversación femenina y masculina. Diferencias y semejanzas en el habla cotidiana de las mujeres y los hombres (Lincom, 2011).



How to Cite

Ferreira, A. V. A. (2012). The humorous display of transgressor feminities: ‘sharing a laugh’ in Spanish/Galician friendly talk among young women. Sociolinguistic Studies, 6(1), 121–147.