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Pandemic as Reflected in English and Russian

Marina A. Kulinich

Abstract: The article deals with verbal and non-verbal means of reflecting the present situation of pandemic in humour from linguo-cultural and intercultural point of view. The pandemic brought about numerous outbursts both in traditional mass media and social networks. One of its manifestations is a great number of jokes, anecdotes and memes about COVID-19. Various online platforms present innumerable humorous short texts. Mass media and social networks generate jokes, memes, anecdotes and caricatures. The corpus is drawn from popular social media platforms (Russian and English) and examined through derivational, stylistic, pragmatic and interpretative analyses. The paper explores the ways of creating a humorous effect on the word level (puns based on blends), on the level of short monologues and short dialogues (jokes). Special attention is paid to internet memes – multimodal (polycode) user-generated digital elements consisting of pictures or photos plus captions. The humorous effect in jokes is revealed by means of defeated expectancy when both primary and secondary meanings are manifested. The humorous effect in memes is achieved with the help of text reminiscences displayed by proper names and set phrases typical of various types of texts. The main topics distinguished in these humorous texts are quarantine, social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing and distance learning both in Russia and in English-speaking internet communities. It is shown that humour — even coronavirus and quarantine jokes — bring people together and help them feel connected in the face of adversity and uncertainty. The research will be continued by means of involving German and French humorous texts.
Keywords: jokes / pandemic / media / humour / Russian and English / internet / texts / humorous

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