Humour at work

conviviality through language play in Singapore's multicultural workplaces

Amanda Wise*, Selvaraj Velayutham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)911-929
Number of pages19
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Volume43
Issue number5
Early online date21 May 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020

Keywords

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

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