Julia Jorgensen, George A. Miller, Dan Sperber
Test of the mention theory of irony
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113. 1 (Mar 1984): 112-120
Argues that the traditional theory of irony, which assumes that an ironist uses a figurative meaning opposite to the literal meaning of the utterance, is inadequate and presents an alternative theory that assumes that the ironist mentions the literal meaning of the utterance and expresses an attitude toward it. The two theories make testable predictions about the conditions under which irony is perceived: The mention theory requires antecedent material for the ironist to mention, whereas the standard theory does not. A reading comprehension test, given to 24 undergraduates, involved anecdotes that satisfied the traditional criterion for irony but could include or omit antecedents for echoic mention. Results support the mention theory of irony in that Subjects did not perceive a plausible nonnormative utterance to be ironic unless it echoed some antecedent use.
Herbert H. Clark and Richard J. Gerrig
On the pretense theory of irony
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113. 1 (Mar 1984): 121-126
Comments on the mention theory of irony developed by D. Sperber and D. Wilson (1981) and further elaborated and tested by J. Jorgenson et al (abstract above). The present authors offer their own pretense theory of irony based on the ideas of H. P. Grice (1975, 1978) and H. W. Fowler (1965). According to this theory, in using irony, the speaker is pretending to be an injudicious person speaking to an uninitiated audience; the speaker intends the persons to whom the irony is addressed to discover the pretense and thereby their attitude toward the speaker, the audience, and the utterance.
Verbal irony: Pretense or echoic mention?
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 113. 1 (Mar 1984): 130-136
Responds to comments by H. H. Clark and R. J. Gerrig on the mention theory of irony developed by the present author and D. Wilson (1981) and tested by J. Jorgensen et al. (abstract above). It is argued that Clark and Gerrig misrepresent mention theory and that the pretense theory that they offer as an alternative may provide a plausible description of parody but fails to account for many types of irony.
Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles