‘Well, that’s just great!’ – An empirically based analysis of non-literal and attitudinal content of ironic utterances
Holden Härtl, Tatjana Brübach
March 2021

This study contributes to the ongoing debate about the informational status of attitudinal content with a focus on verbal irony. Specifically, we investigate how the different meaning components involved in ironic utterances blend into the spectrum between primary and secondary content of utterances. After an analysis of the semantic and pragmatic characteristics of ironic meaning components and their linguistic expression, we show, based on experimental data, that ironic, non-literally asserted content is “less” at issue than non-ironic, literally asserted content. Crucially, our findings also suggest that an ironic utterance’s non-literally asserted content is more at issue than the attitudinal content expressed with the ironic utterance. No difference is observed between attitudinal content manifested as ironic criticism and content manifested as ironic praise. Our findings support the notion of at-issueness as a graded criterion and can be used to argue that verbal irony in general seems to be difficult to reject directly and, thus, be treated as at issue.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005119
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Under revision for Folia Linguistica.
keywords: irony, attitudinal, non-literal, at-issueness, pragmatics, semantics
previous versions: v2 [May 2020]
v1 [April 2020]
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