8.2.1 Different Competence In A Domain Of Discourse

In any exchange there will be some degree of difference in competence and background knowledge (Sections 5 and 6 above) and this exchange is no different. For example, in 37 EM draws on her expertise as a professional fashion model to confirm with some authority - 'I can vouch for that' - that Thatcher never appeared on page three, 'certainly not naked anyway' (41). Of course, expertise is not needed to know such an obvious fact, so while she is referring to her own experience of the domain of professional modelling, she is doing so in the jokey, bantering manner that has been established in the conversation.

The question that is asked concerning the presentation of women as sex objects in newspapers in a country (the UK) which elected a woman as political leader, though a general question answerable by any panellist, is in three consecutive turns by three separate participants (46,47,48) actually addressed to JK for the reason that she is a female Conservative MP and, thus, presumed to have a greater competence to answer. She is also British, whereas the three who ask for the explanation are not. However, on the more general theme of the role of women in society, all discussants - a female politician, a female model, a female dramatist, a male (purportedly) feminist comedian, and a male host who has presumably given this topic some thought before nominating it, would seem to be capable of contributing to this domain of discourse. This is not to say without qualification that all of these are from the 'same' speech community. Hymes defines such as 'a community sharing rules for conduct and interpretation of speech, and rules for the interpretation of at least one linguistic variety' (1972b:54). The discussants are all from English-speaking countries - the UK, the US, and Australia - and each of these has a variety of speech communities based on such factors as class, ethnicity and so on. However, given that these countries have a comparable level of development and these performers are all white, middle-class celebrities with experience of appearances on broadcast media, and also given that the practices of such media chat shows do not differ radically between these countries (PI is, recall, a show from the US), it is reasonable to say that they have a similar competence to discuss the issues at hand. However, there are gender differences and the degree to which these shape the verbal interaction will be highlighted throughout the analysis. (A discussion of LL's small contribution comes below in 'non-engrossed recipients'.)


8 Humour in Context: The Thatcher Joke>

8.2 The Discussants>

8.2.1 Different Competence In A Domain Of Discourse

8.2.2 Assessing Competence In The Details Of Talk>

8.2.3 Non-engrossed Recipients>

8.2.4 Heterogeneity Of The On-Stage Audience>

8.2.5 Audience Interpretation Of The Story>

8.2.6 Reconstituting The On-Stage Audience>