Risum teneatis, amici?☆: The socio-pragmatics of RoastMe humour

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Abstract

This paper gives the first academic description of RoastMe – a prevalent, but hitherto unexplored, humorous practice formed on Reddit and re-posted on various social media, notably Imgur – in the light of the relevant socio-pragmatic literature on humour and (im)politeness. Taking into account the emic perspective of the RoastMe community of practice (as opposed to recurrent etic “cyberbullying” metapragmatic evaluations), RoastMe is conceptualised as an online humorous activity which, similar to the traditional roast (including the celebrity roast genre), is centred on ritual insults addressed to the target who has agreed to be roasted for the sake of humour. RoastMe is enclosed within a humorous frame (regardless of whether or not insults are truthful, i.e. communicate roasters’ true beliefs) and thrives on its community members’ unbounded creativity. Roasting comments can also be seen as mock impoliteness, constituting utterances that display overtly pretended face-threat, while being oriented towards amusement and solidarity-building among anonymous users. However, even though the online community of practice conceives RoastMe as an innocuous activity, the possibility of roastees’ taking, while not necessarily claiming, offence cannot be ruled out.

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Dynel, M., & Poppi, F. I. M. (2019). Risum teneatis, amici?☆: The socio-pragmatics of RoastMe humour. Journal of Pragmatics, 139, 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2018.10.010

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