Laughables research

“Conversation analysts have used the term ‘laughter’ to refer to the free-standing tokens heh, hah, huh and the like.”

But could there be other laughing-related modes of behaviour? Perhaps suggesting the necessity for a broader definition? Researchers professor Cecilia E. Ford, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, and professor Barbara A. Fox, from the University of Colorado-Boulder, US, hint that there may be in their essay ‘Multiple practices for constructing laughables‘ (In: Barth-Weingarten, Dagmar, Elisabeth Reber and Margret Selting (eds.), Prosody in Interaction. 2010. xxi, 406 pp. (pp. 339–368)).
They begin by defining what they term ‘laughables’ as “… one or more utterances proffered by a speaker and inviting recipient laughter or other laugh related displays.” The essay identifies and describes in detail examples of responses to laughables, such as ‘hah’ ‘heh’ and ‘huh’ and even the less common ‘meh’. They also reveal an unusual manifestation of what they call ‘wobbles’ – though pointing out – “More detailed work by phoneticians, especially on the phenomena we have pointed to with the term ‘wobble’, is clearly needed.”
Their article goes on to cover non-verbal laugh-related behaviours, of which they list no less than seven:
• Lipspreading,
• The backward lean,
• Covering face with hands,
• Lowering head and raising shoulders,
• Shaking torso and shoulders,
• Clapping hands (or slapping a surface), and
• Tensing neck and facial muscles.
And to accompany the work, there is an online repository of videos (.mov format) and audio recordings (.wav format) made by the research team showing examples of the various behaviours. Our Improbable recommendations : [1] Shoulder up/down , [2] Table slap, and [3]  ‘Wobbles’.

The essay can be read in full here:

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