Language of COVID-19: a Verbal & Visual Analysis of Humor Prevalent in Caricature Genre of Media Discourse
Languages continue to develop, modify, and reshape during unprecedented situations (Paton, 2020). Language fluidity and its flexible nature tend to be weapons in the hands of linguists and artists to cope with unprecedented difficult times. The current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is posing significant socio-cultural challenges globally and specifically in Pakistan. The present study attempted to explore the role of the caricature genre in COVID-19 media discourse in terms of expressing humour through different verbal and visual elements of language. The sample was selected from four Pakistani newspapers The Nation, The Express Tribune, Dawn, and Pakistan Today (January 2020 to April 2020) by purposive sampling. The data was qualitatively analyzed under the framework of GTVH proposed by Attardo & Raskin (1991). The study revealed that skilled integration of innumerable verbal and visual rhetoric not only functions in terms of persuading the reader through implicit humour prevailing in caricature discourse but also communicates thoughtful information with the use of various literary devices like satire, irony, symbolism, analogy, etc. In this way, media discourse strengthens and motivates individuals and governments to confront the grim situation caused by coronavirus with ultimate laughter. This study will provide insights for future researchers to explore the element of humour prevalent in social media discourse like Twitter, Instagram, and Memes by unveiling implied meanings to better relate to the Pakistani context.
Keywords: language, humor, socio-cultural change, caricatures, COVID-19 discourse
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