A Pragmatic Analysis of the Discourse of Humour and Irony in Selected Memes on Social Media
Keywords:Pragmatics, Discourse, Humour, Irony, Meme
The aim of this study is to examine how memes peculiar to Nigerians on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram employ language to convey humour and irony. Memes can be aptly conceptualized as internet-based entertainment contents principally propagated through social networking and micro-blogging sites which come in varied forms like pictures and written texts, written texts that may or may not be conversational in nature, videos, animations and GIFs. This study adopts a qualitative eclectic approach in its analysis of conversational memes which served as data gathered from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Guided by the General Theory of Verbal Humour (GTVH), thirty (30) conversational memes were purposively selected for discussion using the guises or forms of humour as the unit of analysis on the one hand and discussions situated within empirical and theoretical postulations on the other hand. Findings from the study showed that all the reactions to the originating posts exhibit some form of incongruity and were also verbally ironical. The nature of the originating posts in line with the speech act classification were also found to be expressives and assertives. The study further revealed that three guises of humour namely sarcasm, witticism and pun were prominent in the reaction to the originating posts with sarcasm constituting the major guise of humour used while also pointing out that users on Twitter use humour more than those on Facebook and Instagram.