Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Differences in use and function of verbal irony between real and fictional discourse: (mis)interpretation and irony blindness

Kapogianni, Eleni (2014) Differences in use and function of verbal irony between real and fictional discourse: (mis)interpretation and irony blindness. Humor, 27 (4). pp. 597-618. ISSN 0933-1719. E-ISSN 1613-3722. (doi:10.1515/humor-2014-0093) (KAR id:45601)


This paper presents a contrastive approach to the presence of two distinct types of verbal irony in real (natural, unscripted) versus fictional (scripted) discourse, with a special focus on irony blindness, i.e. the inability to recognize ironic utterances. Irony strategies are categorized into two general types, based on the relationship between the expressed and the intended meaning (Type 1: meaning reversal and Type 2: meaning replacement). First, the differences between these two types are discussed in terms of use, interpretation, and misinterpretation. It is found that the first type of irony strongly prevails in natural discourse, while the second type is considerably more present in fictional discourse than it is in natural discourse. At the same time, the first type of irony appears to be more at risk of misinterpretation in natural discourse, as opposed to the second type, which seems to be a safer (even though less frequently selected) option. These findings are then further analyzed in light of the discussion concerning fictional (comedic, in particular) irony blindness and the construction and role of the irony blind characters. Interestingly, the causes of fictional irony blindness are found to correlate more strongly with the (more humorous) misinterpretation of the second type of irony.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1515/humor-2014-0093
Uncontrolled keywords: irony types; (mis)interpretation; irony blindness; natural discourse; fictional discourse
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PB Modern Languages
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Eleni Kapogianni
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2014 01:11 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2022 09:35 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.