What is it about?

This paper explores how humor is used in Covid-19 directive signs to convey directive messages. The signs analyzed are from a district in Berlin and are focused on communicating hygiene rules and proper social behavior during the reopening of local businesses after the initial lockdown in 2020. The signs combine multiple languages, graphics, and references to create two main effects: firstly, they convey hygiene measures, and secondly, they aim to build a sense of community among various audiences. This is achieved by using humor that draws on specific cultural references and requires a certain level of cultural knowledge. The signs go beyond simple instructions for the general public and are designed for specific groups, reflecting the diverse and fragmented nature of Berlin's public spaces.

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Why is it important?

The findings show how humorous signs foster community-building among different audiences while not losing their directive message. This aspect is crucial for promoting a sense of local belonging and collective responsibility during challenging times, such as a global pandemic.

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Pragmatic functions of humor in Berlin’s directive Covid-19 Signs, Pragmatics and Society, July 2023, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/ps.22010.val.
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