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Parameter 1: The teaser

It may seem self-evident that in every teasing sequence a teaser can be identified as illustrated in example (2), taken from Married with Children, in which Al and his family are stranded due to a broken axle on their car somewhere on ‘Route 666’. Desperately seeking help in the deserted scenery, they find themselves suddenly alighted on a small town and some queer old inhabitants.

  • (2) MWC/005/023/0275
  • 01 Peg LOOK gentlemen;
  • 02 (-) there’s a COO:L twenty five cents in it for you if you can HAUL our CAR to a STAtion;
  • 03 Zeke 2 we::ll,
  • 04 N:ORMALLY it’d be (.) FOUR hundred ^dolla:rs;
  • 05 Zeke 1 but we’ll do it for TWO hundred,
  • 06 if you let us take OUR PICture with you (-)LEOPARD WOMAN,
  • 07 Peg ohehohohohoho: .h ^o:w al-
  • 08 the RUBES think I’m SEXY;=

09 Al = <

hnh yea{hea}:;>

10 yea I would too peg if I drank WHISKEY for BREAKfast,

Al’s teasing instance in line 10 is a prime example of a default conversational scheme: he is the obvious teaser, Peg is the obvious target. Subsequently, the entire sequence complies with the conversational default deictic system, which is anchored in the values ‘I-you-now-here’ as personal, temporal and local reference points, through which the roles of teaser, the teasing victim as well as the actual teasing message are identified.

How straightforward the identification of a teaser in this sequence may be, our data show that it may not always be unambiguously clear who the teaser in a teasing instance is. As a matter of fact, we distinguish three subtypes of teasing instances, all of them featuring a covert or indistinct teaser, which can be derived from a specific shift in the default deictic system. In what follows, we present a qualitative description of a single example for each subtype in order to demonstrate the different pathways, along which this deictic shift can be achieved.

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