OT: Sarcasm and irony

Steve Holden steve at holdenweb.com
Tue Oct 10 11:47:53 CEST 2006

bryan rasmussen wrote:
> On 10/10/06, Steve Holden <steve at holdenweb.com> wrote:
>>bryan rasmussen wrote:
>>>>>>E. g. [in Java there is] no operator overloading, but "+"
>>>>>>concatenation of strings. What if you'd like to implement your own
>>>>>>string-derived class? Ah, never mind. Operator overloading is
>>>>>>bad(tm) ;) <= Irony, definitely
>>>>>Definitely? That one strikes me more as sarcasm.
>>>Well irony originally started out as a very specific concept of the
>>>Ancient Greek drama, this is what we nowadays refer to as Dramatic
>>>Irony but it is the original irony. Irony then became a literary
>>>concept for plot elements similar to Dramatic irony in books, or a
>>>weaker type of the Dramatic irony found in the plays of Shakespeare.
>>>People then noticed that life was at times ironic in the literary
>>>manner. Nowadays the use of the word irony has degenerated to by
>>>pretty much synonymous with sarcasm.
>>... in America. It's well-known among Brits that Americans don't
>>understand irony. They can be pretty oblique when it come to sarcasms
>>too, for that matter.
> is that '....in America' meant to be an addendum to what I said, as in
> this is the situation in America and not elsewhere? If so I should
> probably point out that I am writing from Denmark and was thinking
> specifically of a situation where a dane told me they were being
> 'ironic' (when what they meant, obviously, was that they were being
> ironical), when I asked what they meant by that they said "saying the
> opposite of what I mean" I responded: "so, in other words, what you
> mean by irony is 'sarcasm'" She responded "yes, that's what it means"
Well, my assertion about America clearly doesn't preclude to possibility 
of confusion on the part of the Danish too :-). You are right about the 
general degradation of the (understanding of the) meaning of irony. 
People are just too damned sloppy with language nowadays.

> She had a degree in communications. I also know a few number of brits.
> The quality of their wit is not as yet so rarified that I must strain
> after its meaning.
A degree in communications sadly does not necessarily require complete 
terminological exactitude. There's nothing wrong with being funny but 
obvious <0.8 wink>

Steve Holden       +44 150 684 7255  +1 800 494 3119
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