Publication details [#65682]

Chen, Xinren. 2019. “You're a nuisance!”: “Patch-up” jocular abuse in Chinese fiction. Journal of Pragmatics 139 : 52–63.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
Amsterdam: Elsevier


A seemingly impolite utterance in a situated context at all may be used to transfer messages other than real impoliteness, as in the case of jocular abuse. Little attention has gone to the latter's representation in fiction and its roles in characterisation and plot development. This paper explores a type of what is termed “patch-up” jocular abuse in Chinese fiction, assaying the mixed messages that it helps to convey and the relational work that it attains. Using data from five popular Chinese novels, the paper displays that such jocular abuse amid characters in close or intimate relationships transfers a variety of mixed messages, and that, as an intricate interactional practice, such jocular abuse does diverse sorts of relational work concurrently. The paper suggests that the portrayal of the jocular abuse may conduce to characterisation and plot evolution.