Irony in context

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The third and final major type of irony is verbal irony, in which the intended meaning of a statement is the opposite of what is said. Sound similar to sarcasm? As you might expect, ironic understatement creates contrast by undermining the impact of something, though the thing itself will be rather substantial or serious. It isn't very serious. I have this tiny little tumor on the brain. On the other hand, ironic overstatement makes something small sound like a much bigger deal, in order to emphasize how minor it actually is.

Two households, both alike in dignity In fair Verona, where we lay our scene From ancient grudge break to new mutiny Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. Instead, these lines imply that both households are equally un dignified. And this introduction does more than elicit a chuckle from those who are familiar with the play; it also sets the tone for the entire story, notifying first-time readers that not all that glitters is gold.

While both families might technically be considered nobility, their shared inability to act nobly toward one another ultimately leads to tragedy. Common phrases. Here are some things you might hear in everyday conversation that perfectly exemplify verbal irony. This does rely on well-planned timing and context, however. A character needs to be properly developed, and the tone of a scene needs to be precisely conveyed, in order for dialogue to come across as ironic.

Of course, sometimes writers use verbal irony simply to be funny. Hopefully you now understand the general purpose of irony: to create a contrast between appearances and underlying truths. Indeed, irony is a hallmark of some of the most interesting and sophisticated writing in this day and age. Remember to use it with care, however, as it requires people to read between the lines. With that in mind, go forth and be ironic! In your story, we mean. I once received a birthday card telling me that irony is the opposite of wrinkly. But I do have a question: I believe, as you related to Hitchcock and I think about his works, that he used irony extensively, even more than one instance in a piece.

It's a lot to remember and I've certainly not examined his works to verify that. However, I wonder if, although his works were beyond successful and loved by many, just how much irony is acceptable in today's writing. Verbal irony , while involving non-literal meaning of language, does not have to involve mockery or criticism. Verbal Irony Examples Most people can probably think of times they've heard verbal irony employed in everyday conversation, but it also appears frequently in literature, television, and various forms of political satire. I am not at all romantic. I am not old enough.

I leave romance to my seniors. In one scene, Higgins's housekeeper asks him not to swear, and he replies indignantly: "I swear! I never swear. I detest the habit. What the devil do you mean? Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice A subtler example of verbal irony comes from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice , which begins with the sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Below is an excerpt from a dialogue between Daria and her art teacher: Ms. Take the following dialogue as an example: Henry: Pierce, are you scared? Hawkeye's retort is ironic because he claims not to be scared, but means just the opposite. Verbal irony is a device that can be used for almost any purpose. Writers use irony: To make the reader laugh.

To point out contradictions, hypocrisies, or absurdities of all kinds. To imply a meaning beyond the literal meaning that only some other people will notice or understand. To undermine the significance of or poke fun at an overused word or phrase. The Wikipedia entry on Verbal Irony: A somewhat technical explanation that provides some basic examples. A brief, helpful video that explains what verbal irony is and gives a few examples. A list of the best news articles from the Onion, many of which include examples of irony.

Irony in Context - Katharina Barbe - Google книги

Cite This Page. Sign up! Literary Terms Related to Verbal Irony. See all Literary Terms MLA Chicago. Tsykynovska, Lena. Retrieved September 21, Copy to Clipboard. PDF downloads of all LitCharts literature guides, and of every new one we publish. Detailed quotes explanations with page numbers for every important quote on the site. Teacher Editions with classroom activities for all titles we cover. Line-by-line modern translations of every Shakespeare play and poem. Definitions and examples of literary terms and devices.

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In the course of the paper, the previous examples of verisimilar irony found in the scholarship constituting the present corpus are critically revisited to indicate that the spectrum of forms the focal type of irony can take is narrower than other authors have suggested. This view has come in for heavy criticism, but it has not ceased to be the departure point for contemporary researchers of irony.

According to Gricean thought, the use of the figure of irony generates implicature , 1 i. Wilson ; Wilson and Sperber Thus, since this maxim is flouted , i. Also, irony originates in overtly pretending Grice b []: 54 to communicate a meaning, or in making as if to say Grice a []: 30, 31, 34, b []: 40, 53 , not in what is said.

No meaning arises as what is said in standard irony which Grice must have addressed , though, for the speaker merely overtly pretends to be saying something only to communicate an implicature. However, some non-prototypical manifestations of irony divert from the Gricean conceptualisation in that they appear to rest on truthfulness, being based on expressed beliefs of which speakers are supportive, and thus, as Grice would put it, on what is said.

In this vein, it is also sometimes observed that some irony disconfirms the assumption that irony is based on overtly pretended assertions Recanati ; Soames , insofar as it recruits sincere assertions 4 Kumon-Nakamura et al. Variously formulated, these claims reverberate across the literature, frequently as criticism of the Gricean account, pinpointing its inadequacy e. Colston ; Attardo ; Utsumi ; Garmendia At a glance, irony rooted in truthful statements, which communicate what the speaker believes to be true, here dubbed verisimilar irony for a different, broader use of this label, see Partington , , does not appear to flout the first maxim of Quality or to necessitate meaning negation.

It will be postulated here, however, that verisimilar irony does display Quality flouting, untruthfulness and meaning negation, albeit by making as if to implicate , i. The prime objective of this paper is to elucidate this non-prototypical type of irony on the strength of the existing literature, and to argue that it is amenable to neo-Gricean analysis. It should be stressed that the pragma-philosophical proposal put forward here is based on a rationalist in a Cartesian sense method of argumentation as opposed to empirical methods reliant on cognitive experiments, for instance and that it serves an explanatory function see also Kapogianni , a , b , describing the focal type of irony in theoretical terms in order to offer a formal acid test for its presence.

On close inspection, most of these instances do not evince the central characteristics of verisimilar irony. This article is structured as follows. This instance is scrutinised against the backdrop of previous discussions and is shown not to operate on literal expression, contrary to the well-entrenched view, but on a subordinate figure of speech. As a result, two subtypes of verisimilar irony are distinguished, depending on whether they capitalise on truthful what is said, or on making as if to say and truthful implicature. Since verisimilar irony turns out to be a narrow-scope phenomenon which manifests itself in a limited number of forms, attention is paid also to a selection of problematic examples viewed by other authors as representing what is here dubbed verisimilar irony.

It is shown that these are not cases of verisimilar irony and, frequently, no irony at all. Thereby, any potential criticism that the interpretative model offered here does not encompass such instances is diffused. Indeed, even to date, most of the theoretically-oriented linguistic literature, in tandem with experimental research, devoted to irony has been based on isolated examples, invented or anecdotal, which are further taken for granted and circulated in the scholarship.

Some studies e. Most recently, some corpora have focussed on hashtag as a marker of irony in datasets based on technologically-mediated communication Reyes et al. Thus, this method misses many, if not most, instances of the rhetorical figure, which inherently involves implicitness and, typically, is not indicated via metalanguage. Such an approach is then useful only if the focus is on situational irony or lay understandings. Gibbs and Colston ; see Dynel c and need not involve the trope, which is what scholars typically wish to investigate.

Additionally, using a single lemma as the search word cannot possibly yield all instances of irony in a chosen discourse database, leaving all un-labelled instances unaccounted for. The second major methodological strategy consists in tracing the occurrence of cues for, or concomitants of, irony in chosen datasets for a good overview of such cues, see Burgers et al. The rhetorical concomitants of irony, such as hyperbole or meiosis, are independent phenomena and cannot be taken as unequivocal cues for its presence, not to mention the fact that they cannot be automatically extracted per se.

These lexemes can also be seen as verbal cues for irony. Nonetheless, such words constitute only a small proportion of the manifestations of irony, and they need not always involve the figure, being used in literal senses. On the whole, automatic searches based on verbal cues would yield inadequate results: too narrow insofar as they limit the findings to chosen search words and miss the instances of irony in which such cues are absent and, at the same time, too broad inasmuch as the cues are not exclusive to irony.

What poses the greatest problem for irony researchers is that the focal figure always involves implicating, and the implicatures arising from irony seem to escape any known search engines. This explains why in most of the still relatively few corpus studies of irony, the authors compile their corpora manually on the basis of their intuitions e. Eisterhold et al. This typically leads to dissecting chosen classes of irony, such as ironic similes Veale and Hao ; Veale or negative constructions Giora et al.

The judgements of such specific species of irony, admittedly, stand less chance of being impaired by personal intuitions of what irony involves.

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Likely, in order to avoid this personal bias, Burgers et al. However, the model is premised on an assumption that ironic utterances are inherently evaluative see also Partington , Nor do they account for the fact that some ironic utterances are not couched in any, explicitly or implicitly, evaluative expressions Dynel a. Such may be easily overlooked. The most reliable method of compiling ironic data to date appears to be manual selection of examples premised on proposed definitional components of irony Kapogianni , , , a , b.

This method also has obvious limitations, though. This paper, nevertheless, rests on yet another approach in order to define the non-prototypical and, admittedly, empirically rare type of irony. The language data to be analysed are drawn from the existing scholarship. Whether constructed or overheard by the researchers, these instances are presented in the literature as the prototypical cases of the non-prototypical type of irony.

As will be shown here, they do not always meet the conditions for verisimilar irony. Without these implicatures carrying criticism of the hearers, the negation-based paraphrases purport to be contextually irrelevant. Even if the implicatures with adequate referents were added to rectify this irrelevance, a query would persist concerning the reason for performing the twofold negation.

This pattern of interpretation is then untenable. In his evaluation reversal approach to irony, Partington propounds an interpretative model which holds that the evaluation communicated by any ironic utterance needs to be reversed in order to be relevant to a given context. In reference to the canonical example, which he views as a case of verisimilar irony, Partington : suggests that the mother is implying a reversed evaluation, i. A question arises as to what in theoretical terms triggers the meaning reversal process and promotes this implicature.

Additionally, what Partington does not spell out is that the reversal of the evaluative verb and adjective involves also a change of the referent of the focal evaluation cf. What is here dubbed verisimilar irony is typically claimed to reside in truthful literal meanings, here conceptualised as what is said. Alternatively, however, when another Quality maxim flouting is involved, a truthful implicature but no what is said is engendered as an intermediate level of meaning.

This happens when a verisimilar ironic utterance is couched in a hyperbole , meiosis or metaphor , 12 which involve independent floutings of the first maxim of Quality cf. Grice a []: 33— When prototypical irony based on making as if to say and meaning reversal co-exists with any of the other Quality-based figures of speech, the latter are comprehended logically prior to the ironic meaning on metaphor, see e. Yamanashi ; Stern ; Camp , ; Popa ; Dynel d and this obtains also for verisimilar irony. Therefore, in verisimilar irony that deploys a subordinate Quality-based figure, making as if to say is always present but is independent from the irony per se, which essentially stems from a truthful meaning, i.

Only a few of the tenets proposed previously are endorsed here. Attardo proposes that such an ironic utterance entails inappropriateness in a given context, albeit being relevant. Appropriateness applies if all presuppositions of an utterance are identical to, or compatible with, those of the context, which does not hold for irony. Relevance Theory, endorsing a revised version of the notion of contextual relevance. Yet another query is that the notion of relevant inappropriateness could pertain to non-ironic utterances, as long as contextually inappropriate but relevant or simply contingent on the Relation maxim floutings.

He also brings to focus the notion of contrast of expectations, desires, preferences, or social norms against the actual events, which should, as is argued here, be formally depicted as what the speaker believes to be true events. The latter stipulation concerns verisimilar irony, which resides in truthful utterances evoking expectations which appear to have been defeated or norms which have been violated. Colston only mentions that irony may sometimes rely on a pragmatically sincere utterance which flouts the maxim of Relation, insofar as it refers to a situation different from the one that has occurred.

Otherwise, it is difficult to grasp the ways in which the ironic implicatures come into being. Dynel a. The pending question is why and how this should happen. Regrettably, Kapogianni provides no unequivocal explanation of the meaning derivation process. An attempt will now be made to elucidate the mechanics of verisimilar irony.

Similar to Kapogianni and Camp , the present work takes as its departure point a Gricean rational reconstruction theory of how meaning is inferred in the case of ironic utterances, with a distinction being drawn between verisimilar irony and standard irony which rests on overt untruthfulness cf. Dynel a , c. If an utterance is couched in a Quality-based figure of speech other than irony, it cannot be considered in the context of what is said but it does foster a truthful implicature, an intermediate level of meaning cf.

Thus, contrary to popular opinion, the generalisation that verisimilar irony originates from assertions, truthful statements, or truthful literal meanings should best be avoided. In essence, verisimilar irony can be deemed to reside in truthful meanings, which may arise at the level of what is said or at the level of implicature. Sperber and Wilson , at least not as the central message. It is this implicature that is the primary meaning see Jaszczolt that the speaker intends to get across. In either form, based on truthful what is said or implicature, verisimilar irony may be seen as invalidating the claim that overt untruthfulness and meaning reversal are the central characteristics of all irony.

Also, irony does not always refer to verifiable facts per se, and reality depends on individual perception and belief about what the truth is. One might then conclude that verisimilar irony does not capitalise on untruthfulness, for a verisimilar ironic utterance does not rely on flouting the first maxim of Quality optional subordinate figures of speech aside.

However, untruthfulness is not a homogeneous notion. Firstly, it can be divided into overt and covert untruthfulness Vincent Marrelli , , the former being central to figures of speech, notably irony as well as metaphor, metonymy, meiosis and hyperbole , and the latter underlying deception see Dynel c. Overt untruthfulness is meant to be recognised by the hearer. Secondly, overt and covert untruthfulness bifurcates into explicit untruthfulness and implicit untruthfulness.

The overt explicit type, which lies at the heart of prototypical irony, shows on the utterance level and involves making as if to say. On the other hand, overt implicit untruthfulness pertains to the level of implicature generated on the basis of the subordinate truthful meaning, whether what is said or implicature. Consequently, a proposal is here formulated that verisimilar irony deploys overtly untruthful as if implicature arising from the truthful what is said or implicature, and that this as if implicature necessitates meaning reversal conducive to the central evaluative implicature.

As if implicature is overtly untruthful meaning that does not constitute speaker meaning, and which only serves as a potential inferential step leading to the focal evaluative implicature in verisimilar irony. It is argued here that a hallmark of verisimilar irony is contrast between a truthful meaning and the context in which it is communicated cf. Gibbs and Colston Sperber and Wilson ; Gibbs and Colston and towards the referent appertaining to the target of irony. Usually, but not always, this context coincides with objectively verifiable facts.

Also, this context may be non-verbal e. Finally, it must be underscored that the contrast between the truthful meaning and the context should not be mistaken for the one concerning the overtly untruthful making as if to say and the contextual factors to which it refers cf. Kapogianni , a , which is typical of standard meaning reversal irony based on explicit untruthfulness. The interpretative model proposed here is premised on an assumption that the contrast between a truthful meaning and the context can be conceptualised as the flouting of the Relation maxim.

In other words, because they are transparently at odds with the context, truthful, verisimilar ironic meanings are inherently based on flouting the Relation maxim, i.

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Interestingly, Grice addresses this maxim and its non-fulfilment in two distinct ways. B: There is a garage round the corner. B: He has been paying a lot of visits to New York lately. This is why they depend on maxim floutings. The speakers produce overtly irrelevant replies, and it is the recognition of this fact that guides the hearers towards seeking the focal implicatures, where the Relation maxim is observed. At a genteel tea party, A says Mrs. X is an old bag. Grice a []: In verisimilar irony, the speaker flouts the Relation maxim understood primarily in the latter sense, even though discoursal incoherence may also come into play.

Rectifying the Relation maxim flouting by finding an as if implicature, which is compatible with the context but is overtly untruthful. The proposal based on flouting the Relation maxim and as if implicature subject to negation and conducive to evaluative implicature may serve as a verisimilar irony recognition procedure, helping distinguish this type of irony from utterances which evince other types of irony or are not ironic at all.

In the next section, a corpus of examples of verisimilar irony found in the academic literature will be critically addressed with a view to specifying a few formal characteristics of verisimilar irony and delineating its scope against the backdrop of other communicative phenomena which may be mistaken for it. Manifestations of verisimilar irony are not easy to appreciate, and its instances are actually rarely to be found in the scholarship. Moreover, many of the examples that can be found are dubious, as will be shown in this section.

The two instances above are amenable to the same type of interpretation as the mother example. This as if implicature gives rise to the ultimate evaluative implicature, based on meaning reversal concerning the evaluated activity so that it matches the actual context.

What can be extrapolated from these validated examples of verisimilar irony is that it consists in utterances communicating positive evaluation of a generic referent in what is said or implicated in order to communicate the focal implicature concerning the targeted ironic referent , which is not included in this positively evaluated generic referent, and which is hence evaluated negatively. This positive evaluation may take many forms and guises e.

Event Abstract

This positive evaluation seems to be a necessary component of verisimilar irony, which ultimately carries negative evaluation, as all irony does Grice b []; see Garmendia , ; Dynel a , of the target concerning a specific referent. Additionally, in verisimilar irony, the target negatively evaluated in the ultimate implicature is an entity distinct from the object of positive evaluation in what is said or non-ironically implicated. The positive and ironically implicated negative evaluations are typically opposites, insofar as the feature that is truthfully positively evaluated does not apply to the targeted referent, which is thereby negatively evaluated.

Verbal Irony Definition

The verisimilar ironic status of many examples found in the scholarship is questionable. As will be shown in this section, very frequently, examples used to corroborate a statement that irony need not involve untruthfulness, the flouting of the first maxim of Quality, or meaning negation can hardly qualify as irony in a technical sense.

They may be considered cases of humour see Dynel b , or biting and witty criticism, and thus sarcasm see Dynel a , c for discussion of the differences between irony and sarcasm. Apart from being counter-intuitive, such instances will not be amenable to the interpretative model of verisimilar irony proposed here and they will not display the formal characteristics that the examples examined above do show. Moreover, as will transpire, many of these examples fail to meet two criteria that help verify the presence of all irony, according to some researchers see Kapogianni , , a 22 : implicated negative evaluation see Dynel a , a , here seen as evaluative implicature; and a mismatch between an utterance and the context in which it occurs cf.

Whilst in non-verisimilar irony, overt untruthfulness is explicit, i. If such overt pretence coinciding with overt untruthfulness is involved, this utterance should not be seen as verisimilar irony. On balance, a different explanation needs to be sought for this example. On the other hand, it is indeed the case that this utterance meets the condition of truthful positive evaluation coupled with implicated negative evaluation part of the global conditions for the presence of verisimilar irony, as proposed above.

However, the positive evaluation in what is said is contextually insufficient, rather than contextually incompatible.

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Additionally, this example does not follow the standard pattern whereby the generic referent evaluated positively does not encompass the targeted referent of irony evaluated negatively, insofar as the positive evaluation and negative evaluation share one referent. These are the reasons why this utterance cannot count as verisimilar irony. If indeed ironic, this example will qualify as standard propositional negation irony cf. Sperber and Wilson It must again be stressed that not all negatively evaluative implicatures are connected with irony. This line of reasoning is hardly convincing.

The shortcomings of the echo-mention approach aside cf. Roguska , this example escapes the relevance-theoretic explanation of irony as an echo combined with a dissociative attitude towards the echoed utterance not any assumptions implicit in an echo. Yours, etc. This supposition is tenable only if he thinks Mr.

X [the candidate] is no good at philosophy.