Humour at work: conviviality through language play in Singapore's multicultural workplaces

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Humour plays an important role in making and mediating human relationships. While scholarship on workplace humour is voluminous, there is scarce literature on interactional humour in non-Western yet culturally diverse settings. This article looks at humour in multi-ethnic Singaporean workplaces employing both citizens and temporary migrants, with a particular focus on blue collar and service workers. We argue that Singlish forms a linguistic and aural humour template for workers to bridge significant language, racial and cultural differences through language play that is devoid of the aggressive disparagement humour that frequently characterizes shop-floor humour in the Anglosphere. What evolves is a humorous metrolingua franca (Pennycook, A., and E. Otsuji. 2015. Metrolingualism: Language in the City. London: Routledge.) that is specific to the way everyday multiculturalism operates in diverse Singaporean workplaces.

LanguageEnglish
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2019

Fingerprint

humor
Singapore
workplace
language
worker
multicultural society
cultural difference
migrant
citizen
linguistics

Keywords

  • conviviality
  • Everyday multiculturalism
  • interaction humour
  • Singapore
  • Singlish
  • work

Cite this

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title = "Humour at work: conviviality through language play in Singapore's multicultural workplaces",
abstract = "Humour plays an important role in making and mediating human relationships. While scholarship on workplace humour is voluminous, there is scarce literature on interactional humour in non-Western yet culturally diverse settings. This article looks at humour in multi-ethnic Singaporean workplaces employing both citizens and temporary migrants, with a particular focus on blue collar and service workers. We argue that Singlish forms a linguistic and aural humour template for workers to bridge significant language, racial and cultural differences through language play that is devoid of the aggressive disparagement humour that frequently characterizes shop-floor humour in the Anglosphere. What evolves is a humorous metrolingua franca (Pennycook, A., and E. Otsuji. 2015. Metrolingualism: Language in the City. London: Routledge.) that is specific to the way everyday multiculturalism operates in diverse Singaporean workplaces.",
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Humour at work : conviviality through language play in Singapore's multicultural workplaces. / Wise, Amanda; Velayutham, Selvaraj.

In: Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21.05.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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