Dark, but Danish: Ethnopragmatic Perspectives on Black Humour

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This paper explores sort humor ‘black humour’, a key concept in Danish conversational humour. Sort forms part of larger class of Danish synaesthetic humour metaphors that includes other categories such as tør ‘dry’, syg ‘sick’, and fed ‘fat’. Taking an ethnopragmatic perspective on humour discourse, it is argued that such emic categorisations function as catalogizations of local laughing practices. The aim of the paper is to provide a semantic explication for sort humor and explore the discursive practices associated with the concept. From a comparative perspective, it is demonstrated that the Danish conceptualization of “blackness” differs from that of l’humour noir, a category of French surrealism, and English black humour with its off-limit topics such as death and handicap. In Danish discourse, sort humor has come to stand for a practice of collaborative jocular non-sense making. Sort humor creates a “pseudo-esoteric” illusion whose main function is to either establish or enhance a feeling of “groupy togetherness”.
TidsskriftIntercultural Pragmatics
Udgave nummer4
Sider (fra-til)515–531
Antal sider17
StatusUdgivet - 2018


  • Ethnopragmatics
  • Cross-cultural pragmatics
  • Humour studies
  • Danish language

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