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  1. #1
    bluepinky is offline Junior Member
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    Default sarcasm vs. irony

    What's the difference between sarcasm and irony?

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    Smile Re: sarcasm vs. irony

    In one US-run dictionary they are stated as being synonymous. I think sacrasm tends to imply a rather harsh and unpleasant delivery of irony.

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    banderas is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: sarcasm vs. irony

    Quote Originally Posted by bluepinky View Post
    What's the difference between sarcasm and irony?

    Thanks.
    Irony is conveying something by saying the exact opposite. Sarcasm is meant to hurt someone. Irony is not.
    There are sometimes situations where you apply irony but the the humor that is achieved is sarcastic. Sarcasm is always mockery.

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    Default Re: sarcasm vs. irony

    'irony' is using language, an expression that has its usual meaning, in a way that means just the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
    We have an expression, 'to go overboard', which means being overly enthusiastic about something, OTT (over the top) is another similar expression.
    Say I go out of my way to do a really big favour for a friend, who just mutters a quick 'ta' (= a very off-hand, casual way the British have to say a quick thank you.) I might then respond:
    “Don't go overboard with the gratitude.” That is, by responding as if he was being over the top with thanks for all that I had done, I am really pointing out that his appreciation was woefully lacking.

    a situation can also be 'ironic'. Say a town planner has spent a year redesigning the traffic flow through a city to speed up transport in peak hours - and on the day the whole new system is be officially proclaimed, he is late because he's caught in a traffic jam.

    A small town has one ambulance. A man was hit by a vehicle and needs to be rushed to hospital. The ambulance is unavailable ...because it was the ambulance that ran him down and is damaged!

    Sarcasm is the use of irony to make a derogatory, scathing, witty attack on someone. I recall Bette Davis' line as a new starlet in Hollywood passed by their table: 'There goes the good time that was had by all.'
    (Using the cliche, said in reporting social gatherings and parties, that 'a good time was had by all' (those attending)).
    Do I need to explain the joke to anyone? I hope not, but if I did, phrases like 'of easy virtue' would come into it.
    Last edited by David L.; 09-May-2008 at 18:56.

  5. #5
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: sarcasm vs. irony

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    ...
    Sarcasm is the use of irony to make a derogatory, scathing, witty attack on someone. I recall Bette Davis' line as a new starlet in Hollywood passed by their table: 'There goes the good time that was had by all.'
    (Using the cliche, said in reporting social gatherings and parties, that 'a good time was had by all' (those attending)).
    Do I need to explain the joke to anyone? I hope not, but if I did, phrases like 'of easy virtue' would come into it.
    And another part of the explanation would involve a possible alternative meaning of 'have'.

    b

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    Default Re: sarcasm vs. irony

    BobK:

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    Default Re: sarcasm vs. irony

    Just to tack a comment onto David L's exemplary explanation. While sarcasm can be wildly witty, cutting, and funny to all involved except the target, it may be used in a more interpersonal way to mock, hurt, demean, and humiliate, as those who suffered at the hands of a nasty school teacher may remember.

    The purpose of irony (as I understand it) is not to hurt or ridicule, but to establish and/or confirm the bond between people by playing on each other's (apparent or real) foibles, and it can be directed by the speaker towards (at least) three targets: (1) directly at the interlocutor, (2) at the speaker and the interlocutor combined, and (3) at the speaker him/herself.

    In the first case, often what the speaker expects is an equally witty deprecating retort from the interlocutor, providing the basis for further repartee and establishing or confirming the rapport between the two, as is the purpose in the second case, also. The third case often may involve not only (seriously) tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation but also the fine art of understatement, i.e. the words are the "opposite" of the intended meaning in that they seriously understate the meaning. For example, if you're talking to a pal about breaking up with your partner, you might say that you were "slightly upset, as you can imagine" - in other words, you were heartbroken.

    There can be a fine line between irony and sarcasm, however, especially if the target does not accept or perceive (near-)equality or intimacy with his/her interlocutor, in which case what was meant ironically may come over as sarcastic or impudent.

    Also, those who have a thin skin and/or not much of a sense of humour are unlikely to appreciate irony.
    Last edited by iconoclast; 09-May-2008 at 21:52.

  8. #8
    bluepinky is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: sarcasm vs. irony

    Thank you very much!

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