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LINGUIST List 24.361

Mon Jan 21 2013

Diss: Cognitive Science/ Discourse Analysis/ Philosophy of Language/ Pragmatics: Kapogianni: ' Irony and the Literal Versus Nonliteral Distinction...'

Editor for this issue: Lili Xia <lxialinguistlist.org>

Date: 21-Jan-2013
From: Eleni Kapogianni <kapogiane322yahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Irony and the Literal Versus Nonliteral Distinction: A typological approach with focus on ironic implicature strength
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Institution: Cambridge University
Program: PhD in Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2012

Author: Eleni Kapogianni

Dissertation Title: Irony and the Literal Versus Nonliteral Distinction: A typological approach with focus on ironic implicature strength

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science
                            Discourse Analysis
                            Philosophy of Language

Dissertation Director:
Napoleon Katsos
Katarzyna M. Jaszczolt

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis approaches the phenomenon of verbal irony from a definitional and
typological perspective, with the aim of detecting the principal factors that affect
the derivation and strength of ironic meaning.

A preliminary step for this analysis is the treatment of the definitional problem of
verbal irony, achieved through the postulation of a set of necessary and jointly
sufficient conditions for the presence of the phenomenon. Subsequently, with
evidence from the study of a wide array of irony strategies, two main types of the
phenomenon are distinguished on the basis of the relationship between the
expressed and the intended meaning of the ironic utterance. The proposed irony
types are examined in relation to different factors that may affect the strength of
the ironic implicature, i.e. the level of confidence of the hearers about an ironic
interpretation of the utterance and the difficulty by which the speaker can cancel
(in the Gricean notion of explicit cancellability – Grice 1975) this interpretation.
Five main factors are examined both theoretically and experimentally: derivation
syllogism, necessary assumptions, context dependence, co-textual
reinforcement, and the use of discourse frameworks (particularly the
humorous/ironic framework).

The results of this examination show that the influence of different factors of
strength on the derivation of the two main irony types and their subtypes
correlates with the observation of significant differences in (ironic) implicature
strength. These results lead to the consideration of factors of implicature strength
as a helpful means of categorisation of inferential meaning, which cuts across
the literal-nonliteral divide, being able to provide distinctions within levels of
meaning that had so far been considered rather unified.

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