A Little Bit of Irony
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Hello Linguist list readers,
A study on expressions like "a bit of" has led me to uses where the downtoning quantifier semantics of "bit" ('only a small quantity of') have in fact reversed into the more or less emphatic meaning of 'rather a lot', as in examples such as "She is a bit of an old bag" in contexts where the speaker actually means that she is a really old bag. Both face work and irony seem to be at play here, but I cannot really get my head around the systematic strategies behind it.
I was wondering if there are some general formulations of such reversal strategies for ironic purposes available and known to fellow linguist list readers. Since this is a somewhat of a side road in my study, I am not really au fait with such literature.
Any comments or references are much appreciated.
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