The use of verbal irony: Cues and constraints


This chapter attempts to elucidate some of the mechanisms that underlie the production and comprehension of verbal irony. It proposes that verbal irony is a constrained phenomenon; that is, there are contextual and interpersonal constraints that govern its use. Technological advances have provided us with forms of communication that lack the cues that are available in face-to-face communication. As we have seen, however, communication is very malleable, and new cues have arisen to signal ironic intent in new media. The typographic devices seen in print, and the affective symbols seen in computer messages, provide new ways of communicating ironic intent. Ironic communication should not be thought of as anomalous or obscure; rather, its use allows us to glimpse important pragmatic principles which lie at the very heart of successful communication.

Publication Title

Metaphor: Implications and Applications