A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF VERBAL IRONY AND SARCASM IN AMERICAN TELEVISION COMEDIES AND DRAMAS
Traditionally, irony has long been viewed as a rhetorical device and broadly defined as “the use of words to express the opposite of their literal meaning.” It has been amply studied in different disciplines such as psychology, philosophy and literature, among others. Within linguistics, irony has also been researched into extensively. Several contemporary specialists in the subject now propose that irony does not always imply the opposite meaning of what has been said (or written). Alternatively, it may convey another meaning which is, in fact, different from the literal meaning of an utterance. Besides this innovative proposal, modern linguistic studies, especially within pragmatics, have distinguished four types of irony: ‘Socratic’ irony (that is, the pretence of ignorance of a given topic), ‘dramatic’ irony (where, for example, the audience of a play, or the reader of a novel, knows something that a protagonist ignores), ‘situational’ irony (a state of affairs in the world viewed as ironical), and ‘verbal’ irony (typically, a linguistic phenomenon) (Kreuz and Roberts 1993, cited by Attardo 2000).