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  1. #11
    Head Pigeon Mad Hatter's Avatar
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    Etymologically speaking:

    Irony, on a basic level, means 'disguise' or 'pretending', i.e. saying one thing and meaning the other.

    Sarcasm comes from 'ripping the flesh apart' and means something that is meant to be hurtful and biting.

    Sarcasm and irony can be combined together of course, but they're not the same (and sarcasm isn't a stronger version of irony).

    Irony can be sarcastic, but not every sarcasm classifies as irony.

    Example:

    Suppose someone is trying a dress that makes him/her look fat:

    "How do I look in this dress?"

    - Irony: I think it accents your figure pretty well. (i.e. and doing so it makes you look fat, which is what I actually mean.)

    - Sarcasm: You look disgustingly fat.

    - Irony + sarcasm: I don't think you look disgustingly fat in this dress.
    IN SERIO FATVITAS.

    -τὸ γὰρ γράμμα ἀποκτέννει, τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ζῳοποιεῖ-

  2. #12
    Reason vs Being ragashree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Hatter View Post
    Etymologically speaking:

    Irony, on a basic level, means 'disguise' or 'pretending', i.e. saying one thing and meaning the other.

    Sarcasm comes from 'ripping the flesh apart' and means something that is meant to be hurtful and biting.

    Sarcasm and irony can be combined together of course, but they're not the same (and sarcasm isn't a stronger version of irony).

    Example:

    Suppose someone is trying a dress that makes him/her look fat:

    "How do I look in this dress?"

    - Irony: I think it accents your figure pretty well. (i.e. and doing so it makes you look fat, which is what I actually mean.)

    - Sarcasm: You look disgustingly fat.

    - Irony + sarcasm: I don't think you look disgustingly fat in this dress.

    Mostly so, but the sarcasm example is wrong - it's a directly caustic statement of opinion, nothing more. A truly sarcastic response would be (for example) saying "Stunning!" in a derisive tone, or "Great, like *names a fat person*". I would regard sarcasm as being as potentially as indirect as irony in its expression, but with less room for ambiguity - for the contempt to be expressed sucessfully, there must be no doubt that it IS contempt. Irony may easily be missed by those not in the know and is usually intended to amuse those who do get it, sarcasm is rarely missed by those with normal social functioning, indicates contempt and is often indicated by verbal tone or the obvious inappropriatness of the statement.

    Example - a waiter asks a superior:

    "What do you think about my performance?" (knowing it may not have been up to scratch)

    Irony: "You're doing extremely well except for the need to work on your plate-carrying technique, and perhaps a little forgetfulness over the orders from time to time."

    Or: "Your performance has been impressive, I was particularly impressed with the your eagerness to clear up the mess when you dropped those plates, and apologise to the customers for getting their orders wrong."

    Sarcasm: "Brilliant. So brilliant that you've dropped three plates all over the place this week, and half a dozen orders have been sent back for being wrong. Congratulations on your superb efforts."
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  3. #13
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    As far as technical definition goes:

    Irony:

    1. aThe use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
    b An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
    c A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. See synonyms at wit1.

    2 a Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: "Hyde noted the irony of Ireland's copying the nation she most hated" (Richard Kain).
    2 b An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.

    not mentioned in this def is dramatic irony, where the audience of a play knows something the actors don't.

    Whereas Sarcasm:

    1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
    2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.

    ---

    In more casual terms, "irony" is most commonly used as the second definition of irony ("situational irony", if I remember correctly), whereas sarcasm is typically a form of the first definition of irony (verbal irony) used as a way to ridicule or insult.

    Going by these particular definitions, examples would be:

    irony: in romeo and juliet, when they both kill themselves upon thinking the other is dead, although initially Juliet was faking

    sarcasm: "I'm so glad you're so understanding" when a mate makes an insensitive comment

    Although these aren't the strictest technical definitions, they're closer to the way the words are typically used (imo) than the actual definitions are. I kinda think the technical definition of irony is much too broad, personally.
    -end of thread-

  4. #14
    Reason vs Being ragashree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    Whereas Sarcasm:

    1. A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound.
    2. A form of wit that is marked by the use of sarcastic language and is intended to make its victim the butt of contempt or ridicule.

    2 is rather a circular definition, until "sarcastic language" itself is defined.

    In more casual terms, "irony" is most commonly used as the second definition of irony ("situational irony", if I remember correctly), whereas sarcasm is typically a form of the first definition of irony (verbal irony) used as a way to ridicule or insult.


    irony: in romeo and juliet, when they both kill themselves upon thinking the other is dead, although initially Juliet was faking

    sarcasm: "I'm so glad you're so understanding" when a mate makes an insensitive comment

    This is indeed a good example of situational irony, but it's not of much use in differentiating between verbal irony and sarcasm, which is the purpose of this thread. We don't have situational sarcasm after all
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  5. #15
    man-made neptunesnet's Avatar
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    Unless all my English/Lit/Comp instructors have been wrong, sarcasm is another form of verbal irony. It has more recently been used primarily to belittle or ridicule or cause harm, another tool to wound. That focuses much more on its function, or how we use the word, and does contribute to its meaning overall but is not a primary requirement in defining what sarcasm "is." On the other hand, as the English language continues to evolve, that might within the next twenty years or so become an essential part of the definiton. Who knows really? Dictionaries are reportive only.

  6. #16
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    well...it all depends on which definition you go by, which is why it's confusing.

    In the more broad (older?) definitions, sarcasm is basically any mocking remark; in more specific definitions, it's a form of irony, persumably almost always verbal irony, that is used in a hurtful way. In its more modern/common usage, sarcasm is exactly the same as verbal irony (in other words, not necessarily used in a hurtful way), which is why I don't really agree with the classical definitions.

    edit: as neptune mentioned, language is constantly evolving, and in this case, I think the definitions are misleading if you compare them to the way the words are used by the majority of people today (whether you consider their usage technically correct, or not).

    In their commonly used forms today, "irony" basically = the classical situational irony, whereas "sarcasm" = the classical verbal irony, more or less.
    -end of thread-

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timeless View Post
    This is irony.

    This is sarcasm.



    I think David Spade plays a lot of good characters being sarcastic, and Tom Hanks plays a lot off good characters being ironic.
    "timelessly" put

  8. #18
    Reason vs Being ragashree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neptunesnet View Post
    Unless all my English/Lit/Comp instructors have been wrong, sarcasm is another form of verbal irony. It has more recently been used primarily to belittle or ridicule or cause harm, another tool to wound. That focuses much more on its function, or how we use the word, and does contribute to its meaning overall but is not a primary requirement in defining what "sarcasm" is.
    This is rather back to front. There's nothing "recent" about this being the purpose of sarcasm. Look up the etymology of the word if you don't believe me. The intent to cause harm, etc, exactly defines the purpose of the word and is the reason for the word taking the form it does. If anything, the association of sarcasm with verbal irony is the recent development, though I'm less certain about this.

    Dictionaries are only reportive anyway.
    Not to be too pedantic or anything, but do you think that just for a second you could entertain the idea that dictionaries might have something of a normative function for most users? We generally look words up in dictionaries to ensure that we are making use of them correctly, not because we are looking for novel words or any new meanings old ones might have acquired.
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  9. #19
    man-made neptunesnet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ragashree View Post
    This is rather back to front. There's nothing "recent" about this being the purpose of sarcasm. Look up the etymology of the word if you don't believe me. The intent to cause harm, etc, exactly defines the purpose of the word and is the reason for the word taking the form it does. If anything, the association of sarcasm with verbal irony is the recent development, though I'm less certain about this.
    Well... I mean, I still don't agree.

    Irony and sarcasm have been introduced to me in the literary sense some years ago. Unless you can convince me that you are some kind of authority in this realm (i.e, an English professor, a linguist, etc), I'm not reforming my opinion.

    Not to be too pedantic or anything, but do you think that just for a second you could entertain the idea that dictionaries might have something of a normative function for most users? We generally look words up in dictionaries to ensure that we are making use of them correctly, not because we are looking for novel words or any new meanings old ones might have acquired.
    Yeah, reportive in that we don't always get connotation from whatever is essential in understanding what a word means wholly.

    You are being a little pedantic, but I'll just have to deal?

  10. #20
    The elder Holmes Mycroft's Avatar
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    Irony refers to when something achieves the opposite of its intended effect (Andy's post is a good example). In common parlance, the umbrella of the term has come to include the notion of humorous coincidence (see: Timeless's post). Pedants rue this, but meaning-creep is a feature of any living language, and the sort of irony depicted in Timeless's post really didn't have a very good word to describe it. (I'm in favor if this application.)

    Sarcasm is stating the opposite of what is believed or felt for humorous or emphatic intent. (Sarcasm is similar to the pun in that it's actually funny about 0.0001% of the time, giving nearly-false hope to would-be applicants.)
    Dost thou love Life? Then do not squander Time; for that's the Stuff Life is made of.

    -- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, June 1746 --

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