Us vs Them: Challenging Power Relations through Sustained Humor in Pakistan Saraiki Women’s Conversation


  • Musarrat Azher Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics and Language Studies, University of Sargodha, Pakistan


sustained humor, power relations, Pakistani Saraiki women, conversations, humor support, joint fantasizing, mode adoption


This article explores how sustained humor serves as a tool to delineate group boundaries and illuminate unequal power dynamics and social hierarchy within conversations among Pakistani Saraiki women. The study is grounded in an extended humorous exchange extracted from an audio-recorded conversation among female relatives of a middle-class Saraiki family. They engage in dialogue about one participant's encounter at a parent-teacher meeting held in a private English medium school, where her struggle with the English language becomes apparent. Following Attardo’s (2019) theoretical framework on sustained humor, the study examines co-constructed humor, mode adoption (e.g., responding to irony with irony; Attardo, 2002; Whalen & Pexman, 2010), humor support (Hay, 2001), and extended speaker-dominated turns (such as sharing personal anecdotes or jokes). The findings reveal that Saraiki women predominantly construct a cohesive and continuously sustained humorous discourse through extended speaker-dominated turns. They utilize techniques like irony and self-deprecation, engage in joint fantasizing, and support humor through laughter, overlaps, repetition, and verbal endorsement, thereby heightening involvement. Through self-mockery and playful teasing, these women distance themselves from established social hierarchies, demarcate in-group and out-group boundaries, challenge unequal power dynamics, and articulate their marginalized position within society. This research amplifies the voices and concerns of Saraiki women and contributes to our understanding of humor dynamics in natural conversational settings.



How to Cite

Azher, M. (2023). Us vs Them: Challenging Power Relations through Sustained Humor in Pakistan Saraiki Women’s Conversation . Pakistan Journal of Language Studies, 7(1), 65-88. Retrieved from //