Literal Meaning In Irony Analysis

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The question about the role of literal meaning in irony comprehension, i. e. whether the access to literal meaning is necessary for irony understanding is a bone of contention among scholars. On the one hand, Grice (1975) and Giora (1995), each along different lines, have argued that a hearer must process literal meaning in order to correctly understand irony. On the other hand, under Pretense Theory (Clark and Gerrig 1984), Echo Theory (Wilson and Sperber 1992; Sperber and Wilson 1995: 237-243; Wilson 2009; Wilson and Sperber 2012), and Allusion Pretense Theory (Kumon-Nakamura, Glucksberg and Brown 1995) access to literal content of an utterance is not a prerequisite for a successful inference of ironic meaning. Grice (1975) argued that in using irony a speaker intentionally flouts Quality maxim (maxim that obliges the speaker to utter true statements) and simultaneously expects that a hearer will recognize the violations as a signal towards the utterance's ironic meaning. Hence, under his account hearers first access and process literal content, then reject it as inconsistent with the Quality maxim, and finally retrieve ironic meaning. Giora (1995) agrees with Grice in so far that she claims as well that the utterance's literal sense is processed in irony comprehension. However, she does not believe that literal meaning is rejected at any stage of understanding. In her view, ironical utterances “involve both…show more content…
In Section 3 I try to show that the derivation of the utterance's literal meaning isn't a necessary step in irony comprehension under Echo account because hearers have mental tools enabling a direct retrieval of the intended ironic meaning. This tool is a set of meta-representational abilities whose task is to pick out structural characteristics of irony. Before elaborating on this further, I briefly describe structural traits of irony in Echo

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