Metaphor, irony and sarcasm in public discourse

Musolff, Andreas (2017) Metaphor, irony and sarcasm in public discourse. Journal of Pragmatics, 109. pp. 95-104. ISSN 0378-2166

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Abstract

In public political discourse, figurative expressions used by one participant are often followed up and ‘countered’ by other participants through ironical and/or sarcastic allusions or quotations, which are aimed at denouncing the preceding version and/or deriving a new, contrarian conclusion from it. What is the relationship between the figurative template expression and its ironical or sarcastic variants? Using data from a corpus documenting 25 years of debate in Britain about the nation’s place at the heart of Europe, this paper investigates the interplay of metaphor, irony and sarcasm in public discourse. We show that the ‘discourse career’ of this metaphorical slogan bifurcates into two strands, i.e. an affirmative, optimistic use vs deriding and ridiculing uses that depict the heart of Europe as diseased, dead, non-existent or rotten. It is argued that discourse participants need to retain the optimistic template version as a reference point in discourse memory to achieve the intended ironical and/or sarcastic effects, and that the latter are essential to keep the metaphoricity of the slogan ‘alive’.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: discourse history,echoic utterance,follow-up,irony,metaphor,metarepresentation,quotation,sarcasm
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies
University of East Anglia > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Language and Communication Studies
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 23 Jan 2017 21:32
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2020 01:20
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/62146
DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2016.12.010

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