02.08.2021 | Publikation

Härtl, Holden & Bürger, Tatjana (2021) ‘Well, that’s just great!’: an empirically based analysis of non-literal and attitudinal content of ironic utterances

in: Folia Linguistica Band 55 (2021)


This study contributes to the ongoing debate about the informationalstatus of attitudinal content with a focus on verbal irony. Specifically, we inves-tigate where the different meaning components involved in ironic utterances arepositioned in the dichotomy between primary and secondary content of utter-ances. After an analysis of the semantic and pragmatic characteristics of ironicmeaning components and their linguistic expression, we show, based on experi-mental data, that ironic, non-literally asserted content is“less”at-issue than non-ironic, literally asserted content. Crucially, our findings also suggest that an ironicutterance’s non-literally asserted content is more at-issue than the attitudinalcontent expressed with an ironic utterance. No difference is observed betweenattitudinal content manifested as ironic criticism and content manifested as ironicpraise. Our findings support the notion of at-issueness as a graded criterion andcan be used to argue that verbal irony in general seems to be difficult to rejectdirectly and treated as at-issue.


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