Title

Snicker, Snap, and Mutter: A Corpus Survey of Sarcasm in Fiction

Presenter Information

Camille Bello

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 135

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Sarcasm, Irony, Pragmatics

Abstract

This study aims to determine how sarcasm is communicated in written discourse. Writing sarcastically is challenging for essentially two reasons: 1) loss of paralinguistic cues, such as behavior and intonation, as a marker; and 2) because sarcasm has no standard grammaticalized form. Sarcasm is differentiated from irony. To gather data, a search string was conducted on the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) using the word “sarcastically” in the category of fiction. A total of 287 items resulted from the search. The hypothesis was that, in addition to the use of the word “sarcastically”, there would also be additional lexical information present used to convey sarcasm. It is this information that was analyzed. Lexical items from this search string were found to fit into nine categories of the proposed quasi-tense “the sarcastive” by author John Haimen, a leading researcher on the topic of sarcasm. The categories, or sarcasm cues, are as follows: hyperbole, sneers and laughter (out of context), ironic repetition of fresh talk, flattening, enantiosemantic phrases, hyperformality/register, manner of speaking verbs, repetition, and syntacticization. It was found that hyperbole was the most frequent cue for sarcasm, followed by flattening, manner of speaking verbs, enantiosemantic phrases, hyperformality, repetition, sneers and laughter (out of context), ironic repetition of fresh talk, and syntacticization. After a review of the literature, it became quite clear that the study of the pragmatic field of sarcasm is one that is emerging, but that is particularly lacking in clear standards and definitions

Faculty Mentor(s)

Loretta Gray

Department/Program

TESOL

Additional Mentoring Department

English

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May 21st, 1:30 PM May 21st, 1:50 PM

Snicker, Snap, and Mutter: A Corpus Survey of Sarcasm in Fiction

SURC 135

This study aims to determine how sarcasm is communicated in written discourse. Writing sarcastically is challenging for essentially two reasons: 1) loss of paralinguistic cues, such as behavior and intonation, as a marker; and 2) because sarcasm has no standard grammaticalized form. Sarcasm is differentiated from irony. To gather data, a search string was conducted on the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) using the word “sarcastically” in the category of fiction. A total of 287 items resulted from the search. The hypothesis was that, in addition to the use of the word “sarcastically”, there would also be additional lexical information present used to convey sarcasm. It is this information that was analyzed. Lexical items from this search string were found to fit into nine categories of the proposed quasi-tense “the sarcastive” by author John Haimen, a leading researcher on the topic of sarcasm. The categories, or sarcasm cues, are as follows: hyperbole, sneers and laughter (out of context), ironic repetition of fresh talk, flattening, enantiosemantic phrases, hyperformality/register, manner of speaking verbs, repetition, and syntacticization. It was found that hyperbole was the most frequent cue for sarcasm, followed by flattening, manner of speaking verbs, enantiosemantic phrases, hyperformality, repetition, sneers and laughter (out of context), ironic repetition of fresh talk, and syntacticization. After a review of the literature, it became quite clear that the study of the pragmatic field of sarcasm is one that is emerging, but that is particularly lacking in clear standards and definitions