A New Analysis of Verbal Irony

Yasir Alotaibi


This article contributes a new analysis of verbal irony to the literature. It presents the main analyses of verbal irony – and the main criticisms of these analyses – found in both older and modern literatures as part of its attempt to build a new account for verbal irony. Thus, this paper discusses traditional, echoic and pretense accounts of irony and the limitations of these analyses. In traditional account, verbal irony is analyzed as a type of a trope or a figurative, in which the speaker communicates the opposite of the literal meaning (see Utsumi (2000)). In echoic analysis, verbal irony is assumed to be an echoic interpretation of an attributed utterance or thought (see Wilson and Sperber (1992)). As for pretense account of verbal irony, it views the ironist as pretending to be an injudicious speaker talking to an uninitiated hearer (see Clark and Gerrig (1984)). The three analyses of verbal irony attract some criticism in the literature (see Kreuz and Glucksberg (1989) and Utsumi (2000)). This paper argues for a new analysis, suggesting that there are multiple types of verbal irony that should be examined under more than one analytical approach based on their meanings. This paper suggests that ironic verbal expressions that communicate the opposite of their literal meaning should be analyzed as a type of metaphor with two oppositional subjects in which the ironist pretends to believe that they resemble one another.



Ironist, echoic, pretense, verbal irony

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijalel.v.6n.5p.154


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