1 Faculteit Letteren & Wijsbegeerte Isolde Dheedene The translation of Irony in Dutch subtitles: A corpus based study of the British sitcoms Fawlty Towers and The Office. Masterproef voorgedragen tot het behalen van de graad van Master in het Vertalen 2014 Promotor Prof. Dr. Sonia Vandepitte Vakgroep Vertalen Tolken Communicatie
2 Acknowledgements I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Sonia Vandepitte for her advice and guidance in writing this Master's thesis. My thanks also go out to my friends and family for their continuous support and words of encouragement throughout my academic career. Special thanks go out Florian and Gio for providing me with the materials for my research.
3 Abstract This Master's thesis sets out to study the translation of verbal irony in the relatively young field of Audiovisual Translation. To that purpose, the different translation strategies used in the translation of verbal irony from English to Dutch were examined in two British sitcoms: Fawlty Towers and The Office (UK). A corpus was constructed with ironic utterances taken from the ST of these sitcoms. These utterances were analysed and the markers that were used to mark irony were defined. A qualitative analysis showed which irony markers were used to mark irony in ST and TT of both sitcoms and whether there was a significant difference in use between the two sitcoms. A quantitative analysis served to show how many irony markers were preserved in translation and, consequently, how much irony was successfully translated. It could be concluded that the two sitcoms made use of many of the same irony markers and that in most cases, irony was successfully translated in the subtitles. There were some cases where ironic utterances were not translated but in many of those cases, the nature of the utterances was so that a Dutch audience can still grasp the ironic meaning. In a few cases ironic meaning was lost. Finally, although this study provides valuable insights, further study is required before a more general conclusion can be made. Keywords: irony, subtitles, Audiovisual Translation
4 4 Table of Contents Acknowledgements... 5 Abstract... 6 Table of Contents INTRODUCTION SUBJECT OUTLINE FAWLTY TOWERS THE OFFICE (UK) TRANSLATION SITUATION IRONY IRONIC THEORY CLASSIFICATION IRONIC FACTORS AND MARKERS Irony factors Irony markers TRANSLATION OF IRONY SUBTITLING & AUDIOVISUAL TRANSLATION CHARACTERISTICS AND DEFINITION SUBTITLING SUBTITLING IRONY HYPOTHESIS & RESEARCH METHOD HYPOTHESIS RESEARCH METHOD RESULTS QUALITATIVELY Source Text Target Text QUANTITATIVELY CONCLUSION BIBLIOGRAPHY APPENDIX... 56
5 5 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1 SUBJECT Irony can be a fascinating subject to study. It is a way of playing with language and it can present itself in many different forms (verbal, dramatic, socratic,...). Irony is used in everyday language, where speakers use it and hearers correctly interpret the underlying meaning, yet researchers have not yet been able to reach a consensus on what irony actually is and what makes an utterance ironic. Grice (1975) proposes that it is the flouting of the maxim of Quality. Sperber and Wilson (1981) disagree and suggest that irony is echoic mention. Haverkate (1990) puts forward yet another analysis of irony, namely irony as the violation of the sincerity condition, a concept defined by Searle (1969). Since it appears to be quite a complex phenomenon, it stands to reason that the translation of irony can prove to be challenging. Something similar can be said about Audiovisual Translation (AVT). Audiovisual Translation is still a relatively young science, even younger than Translation Studies in general. It originated with the introduction of movies and television series, when the problem of the language barrier became apparent. To solve this problem, the film industry introduced Audiovisual Translation (AVT). Over the years, as technology evolved, Audiovisual Translation has evolved as well and now includes many different forms from subtitling to dubbing. Today, there is a vast offer of television entertainment that is spread around across the world and many programs and films need Audiovisual Translation so that non-native speakers can also enjoy them. As such, AVT has come to be an integral part of our society and it has earned its place in Translation Studies. As a form of translation, AVT is a complex phenomenon where a translator does not only have to take into account what is said but also what is shown and heard. In addition, the translator often has limited space to translate what is said, which makes AVT challenging. Studies have already been carried out on the translation of irony in literary translation but not so much in the field of Audiovisual Translation (AVT). Therefore, it can be interesting to study the translation of irony in subtitles as the field of Audiovisual Translation is an entirely different medium than literature because unlike in literature, both a visual and an auditory aspect are present. The audience can actually see and hear the dialogue, which may make it
6 6 easier to identify those passages that are meant to be ironic and that depend on the tone of the speaker to identify the irony. That does not mean that there is nothing to be learnt from those studies of the translation of literary irony that can help in the translation of irony in AVT because AVT still had a textual component as well. Therefore, the translation of irony in subtitles promises to be an interesting subject. This thesis discusses the different translation strategies for translating irony in subtitles. For that purpose, a corpus of ironic expressions was construed from episodes of Fawlty Towers and The Office. Special attention was paid to which translation strategies were used and what influence space limitation and other conventions of Audiovisual Translation (AVT), for example the role of the audiovisual aspect, could have on the translation of irony. 1.2 OUTLINE The remainder of this chapter will introduce the two series that have been used to construct the corpus: Fawlty Towers and The Office (UK). The main plot and characters will be briefly introduced because it will give a better understanding of the characters and the relationships they have with one another. This should make it clearer for the reader of this thesis to understand why the characters would use irony in a particular situation. Afterward, we move on to the discussion of irony in chapter two, entitled 'Ironic theory'. In this chapter the different theories of irony of Grice (1975), Sperber and Wilson (1981), Haverkate (1990) and Attardo (2000b) will be discussed in order to give a clear picture of what has been said about irony and which theories have been proposed. After that introduction to what irony is, the classification of the different types of irony as suggested by Attardo (2000a) and Gibbs (2000) will be discussed in the section titled 'Classification', as it is important to distinguish between these different types for the purpose of this paper. In the section 'Ironic markers' the markers that Attardo (2000a) and Burgers, Van Mulken and Schellens (2012) mentioned in their work will be discussed in order to get a better view on how to recognize irony. Finally, the section on irony will end with a discussion on the translation of irony and which strategies might be used. On this topic the works by Mateo (1995) and Chaume (2004) will be cited. After the discussion on irony, Audiovisual Translation (AVT) will be addressed in chapter three. First, in talking about the characteristics and definition of AVT, the works of Gottlieb (1994), O'Connell (1996) and Orero (2004) will be discussed. These researchers have pointed
7 7 out the specific characteristics of Audiovisual Translation and the challenges it presents. After that, the final section of chapter three will deal with the translation of subtitles. Here, attention will be paid to the studies by Pelsmaekers and Van Besien (2002), Chaume (2004) and Ghaemi & Benyamin (2010). Specific attention will be paid to the different strategies they suggest and/or have used in their work. In the fourth chapter the hypothesis put forward in this paper will be presented and the research method that has been employed to study the corpus will be explained. Chapter five will then discuss the results of the analysis of the corpus. Each marker encountered will be presented and explained by discussing an example found in the corpus. Finally, in the sixth and final chapter a conclusion will be formulated. 1.3 FAWLTY TOWERS Fawlty Towers is a sitcom about a fictional beach hotel in Torquay. There are twelve episodes, six that were produced in 1975 and later in 1979 (last 6 episodes). The series centers around Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), the owner of the hotel, his wife Sybil (Prunella Scales), the maid Polly Sherman (Connie Booth) and the waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs). Basil Fawlty Basil is quite a snobbish and prejudiced man. Throughout the series Basil makes no secret of it that he prefers classier guests than ordinary working class people. He is stingy, quite traditional in his beliefs (he would sooner put faith in a scheming baron than a working class policeman) and he believes that everything he does is done right and everyone else's ideas are doomed to fail. Consequently, he believes the hotel cannot cope without him. Basil often jumps to the wrong conclusions about people that lead to amusing situations. Basil is married to Sybil and seems to be a little afraid of his wife but that does not stop him, however, from trying to go behind her back to do things how he feels they should be done, often with the help of Manuel and Polly. Sybil Fawlty Sybil is Basil's wife but it seems the love has long gone from their marriage. The couple is always bickering and calling each other names. However, Sybil knows that her husband is a
8 8 little afraid of her and she orders him around. Sybil also seems to be more suited to the hotel business than her husband as she is more understanding towards the guests and their needs. She does not share her husband's old-fashioned ideas and is often the voice of reason. Polly Sherman Polly is the maid in the hotel and an aspiring artist as she tries to sell her drawings. She often tries to help her boss when he gets into trouble again. She is good at her job even though Basil believes he can always do it better. Basil is also quite ungrateful towards Polly and always insults her drawings. Manuel Manuel is the waiter from Barcelona. As such, he does not speak English very well which leads to many amusing misunderstandings and confusion between him and Mr. Fawlty. Basil has no patience with Manuel and often slaps him for his mistakes. 1.4 THE OFFICE (UK) The Office is a sitcom about a fictional paper company in Slough, called Wernham-Hogg. The sitcom is filmed as a documentary ( a 'mockumentary') with interviews with the employees. The main characters are David Brent (Ricky Gervais), Gareth Keenan (Mackenzie Crook), Tim Canterbury (Martin Freeman) and Dawn Tinsley, the receptionist (Lucy Davis). David Brent David is the boss of the company. He thinks he is loved by his employees and that he is very funny but he is wrong on both accounts. His jokes are not funny but misplaced and his employees put up with him just because he is the boss (perhaps with the exception of Gareth). Gareth Keenan Gareth is the assistant regional manager and believes he is an important man within the company. He admires his boss and takes his job very seriously. He is one of the few people working at Wernham-Hogg who likes working there and believes he can make a career out of it.
9 9 Tim Canterbury Tim is a nice guy with a boring job which he only does because he has nothing else. Even so, he tries to do his job well and manages to get through the day by making fun of Gareth for being so serious and playing jokes on him. Dawn Tinsley Dawn is the receptionist who has to put up with the bad taste and bad jokes of her boss David. She does not like her job and often joins Tim in complaining about the job and making fun of Gareth. 1.5 TRANSLATION SITUATION Before the translation of irony in the subtitles of Fawlty Towers and The Office is discussed, it is prudent to take a look at the translation situation of both series. Both translation situations are presented here in a table to facilitate a comparison between the two series. Source text commissioner Source text writer Source text audience FAWLTY TOWERS BBC John Cleese & Connie Booth (script); unknown (subtitles) English speaking (mainly British) audience looking to watch comedy BBC THE OFFICE (UK) Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant (script); unknown (subtitles) English speaking (mainly British) audience looking to watch comedy (season 1) Source text time 2003 (season 2) Source text place Britain Britain Source text text type Film, dialogue list and subtitles Film, dialogue list and subtitles Source text skopos Entertaining Entertaining Source text no. of words Target text commissioner Warner Home Video (Benelux) Warner Home Video (Benelux) Target text writer Unknown Unknown Target text audience Dutch speaking audience looking to watch comedy Dutch speaking audience looking to watch comedy Target time
10 10 Target place Nederland & België Nederland & België Target text type Subtitles Subtitles Target skopos Entertaining Entertaining Target no. of subtitles Target no. of words As is clear from the table, the sitcoms have similar features, the main difference being of course the script writers and the period in which they were produced. Another interesting feature that should be mentioned, is that while the Dutch subtitles were produced almost simultaneously for The Office, this is not the case for Fawlty Towers. This has to do with the fact that the material used to construe the corpus in this paper was in DVD format and that did not yet exist at the time Fawlty Towers was first produced. Also important to mention is the fact that the ST of The Office has to be much larger than the ST of Fawlty Towers in order to find the same amount of ironic utterances ( words to words). Logically, this would mean that ironic utterances are more frequent in the latter than in the former. 2. IRONY 2.1 IRONIC THEORY The concept of irony has been researched by many different people but there is still no consensus about the subject and the definition of irony. In the widest sense, irony can be perceived as saying something else than what you think, expressing contrast and incongruity. This basic definition of irony can be found in the online Merriam-Webster's dictionary (n.d.): "The use of words that mean the opposite of what you really think especially in order to be funny". In what follows, some theories will be presented that have been put forward by Grice (1975), Sperber and Wilson (1981), Haverkate (1990) and Attardo (2000b) in order to give a general idea of the different theories that have been proposed. Some researchers, like Grice (1975), say that irony is the flouting of the maxim of Quality of the Cooperation Principle. The maxim of Quality says that the speaker must make his contribution true and must tell no lies. Ironic expressions in which you say something that should not be taken literal could, as such, be perceived as a breach of this maxim. Yet, the audience is aware of the breach and understands that the speaker uses it to convey something
11 11 else, something that must be related to his actual statement, i.e. the opposite of what he said. Grice's theory had a big influence on ironic theory as many other researchers that followed him cited him to either agree with him or point out the flaws in his theory and propose another. Sperber and Wilson (1981) contradict Grice's (1975) analysis of irony and believe that irony should be perceived as echoic mention. Unlike Grice, who perceives irony as a pragmatic phenomenon, Sperber and Wilson offer an approach that states that irony has a semantic condition. In their article they try to explain why irony is used and why ironic utterances sometimes mean the opposite of what is said, something that Grice failed to explain, they argue. To do that, they draw upon the distinction made in philosophy between 'use' and 'mention'. "USE of an expression involves reference to what the expression refers to; MENTION of an expression involves reference to the expression itself." (1981, p 303). The following two sentences are used by Sperber and Wilson to indicate the difference: (1) The examples are rare and marginal. (2) "Marginal" is a technical term. In (1) the word 'marginal' is used while in (2) it is mentioned. Sperber and Wilson (1981) believe that irony can be perceived as echoic mention. An utterance is echoic mention when it echoes a preceding utterance, like in the following example, copied from Sperber and Wilson (1981, p). (3) a) I'm tired. b) You're tired. And what do you think I am? Reply b) is echoed because it does not have the same illocutionary force it has in a). The purpose of this echoic mention is to express the hearer's reaction to the previous utterance. Sperber and Wilson state: "The speaker's choice of words, his tone (doubtful, questioning, scornful, contemptuous, approving, and so on), and the immediate context, all play a part in indicating his own attitude to the proposition mentioned." (1981, p 307). Sperber and Wilson (1981) believe that a speaker uses echoic mention in irony to reject a proposition as "ludicrously false, inappropriate, or irrelevant". The hearer must then recognize that the speaker is mentioning the utterance instead of using it and understand the speaker's attitude to the mentioned utterance. According to Sperber and Wilson, this is the best way to study irony as it can account for more instances of irony than Grice's approach (1975) could.
12 12 Haverkate (1990) suggests a different approach and proposes that irony should be studied from the viewpoint of the theory of speech acts. He states that all studies of strategies in verbal interaction should be based on the componential analysis of the speech act. For that, a distinction must be made between the different "sub-acts" in a speech act: articulatory, illocutionary and propositional sub-act. In the articulatory sub-act, a speaker chooses the intonation pattern of his utterance. Whether or not he asks something directly or indirectly is decided in the illocutionary sub-act and at the level of the propositional sub-act, the speaker chooses the lexical items that will best convey the meaning. Irony is a complex strategy that can occur at all three sub-acts according to Haverkate but he focuses only on the propositional and the illocutionary level of speech acts. Haverkate (1990) bases his work on Searle's work on speech acts (1976) in which five classes of speech acts were distinguished: assertives, directives, commissives, expressives and declaratives. Haverkate points out that irony is most common in assertives, less in directives, commissives and expressives and does not occur in declaratives. In the speech act theory, sincerity is vital. Haverkate (1990) defines sincerity as "the psychological or intentional state of the speaker" (1990, p 87). For Haverkate this leads to a first distinction between sincere and insincere speech acts. Insincere speech acts are those in which the speaker violates the sincerity condition. Within the category of insincere speech acts, Haverkate distinguishes further between transparent and non-transparent forms of violation. Non-transparent forms like lies are used to deceive the hearer since the hearer is not aware that the speaker violates the sincerity condition. Transparent forms, on the other hand, are meant to be picked up on by the hearer. The speaker and the hearer are aware that the speaker is being insincere, thus there can be no talk of deception on the part of the speaker. Haverkate classifies irony as a transparent insincere speech act. According to Haverkate (1990), irony is the intentional violation of the sincerity condition and is different for each class of speech act (assertives, directives, commissives and expressives). Haverkate states: "An assertion is sincere if the speaker uttering it is in the intentional state of believing that the state of affairs described corresponds to factual reality." (1990, p 104). Assertive irony occurs when this sincerity condition is violated. Sometimes the internal structure of a proposition allows the hearer to infer that the speaker is insincere. Other times, the insincerity affects the entire proposition and the speaker means the opposite of what he says. Another possibility is that the hearer can recognize the speaker's insincerity because
13 13 the context contradicts the speaker's proposition. In directive speech acts, Haverkate makes a distinction between impositive and non-impositive speech acts, in which the speaker wants the hearer to perform an action for the speaker's benefit or the hearer's benefit respectively. Haverkate states: "The performance of an impositive is sincere if the speaker is in the intentional state of wishing that the hearer carry out the action he asks him to carry out." (1990, p 105). In an ironic directive speech act, Haverkate states, the speaker does not really want the hearer to do as he asked. "The performance of a commissive speech act is sincere if the speaker is in the intentional state of having the intention of carrying out the action specified by the propositional content." (1990: 105). According to Haverkate, commissive irony occurs when the speaker promises to perform an action which both he and the hearer know he cannot do or when the speaker promises to perform an action which he knows is unacceptable to the hearer. Finally, because expressive speech acts are so heterogeneous in the illocutionary goals of their speaker, Haverkate argues that each case must be evaluated separately and that he cannot formulate a generic sincerity condition for expressive speech acts. Instead, he focuses on the prototypical expressive speech act, namely that of congratulating. He defines the sincerity condition for that act as followed: "The speaker who sincerely congratulates the hearer is in an intentional state of feeling a positive emotion with respect to a factual state of affairs that benefits the hearer." (1990, p 106). Ironic expressives then imply that the speaker does not feel a positive emotion but a negative one. One of the theorists that followed Grice's (1975) view was Attardo (2000b). Attardo agrees with Grice s theory on irony that states that irony is the violation of the maxim of quality. However, Attardo claims that Grice s theory is flawed and draws upon the work of Kaufer (1981), Sperber and Wilson (1981) and Holdcroft (1983). Attardo reports examples that show that in examples of irony, not the maxim of quality was being flouted but the one of quantity, manner and/or relevance. Thus, Attardo concludes that Grice s theory is flawed because it is restricted in its definition of irony as solely the flouting of the maxim of quality. A second flaw in Grice s theory, according to Attardo (2000b), is the fact that he discards the literal meaning of irony. Grice (1975) postulates that in irony there are two meanings: one literal meaning and one implied meaning. He states that in irony the literal meaning is discarded because it is not important for the correct interpretation of the utterance. As such, this would mean that the literal meaning is no longer available to the audience. Attardo draws upon the work of Giora et al. (1998) to show that irony maintains both meanings, that the audience has access to both the literal meaning as the ironical meaning.
14 14 Attardo (2000b) proposes an approach to analyzing irony which is Gricean at the core but still differs from Grice's model. Attardo states that it is important to understand that irony does not necessarily implicate the opposite or the converse of the literal meaning (2000b, p 814). He agrees with Schaffer (1982) in that irony is essentially a pragmatic phenomenon with no "semantic correlates". This means that one does not recognize irony from the words but from the "conversational context" or the "nonverbal communication", including the speaker s intentions and goals. Therefore, irony needs to be inferred from the text, according to Attardo. For recognizing and interpreting irony, the hearer must therefore depend on the active guidance of Grice's Cooperation Principle (CP). Attardo phrases it as followed: H[earer], upon noticing the disruption of the CP does not withdraw from the conversation (which would be a safe move, since his/her interlocutor has just given manifest proof of being untrustworthy) but assumes that the violation of the CP is the smallest possible and, therefore, that the violation must somehow refer to the context, and be meaningful. [...] In other words, after having recognized (a part of) a text as ironical, H assumes that the maxim of relevance holds and that the relevance of the irony lies in the direction of an antiphrastic meaning (i.e. in the direction of the opposite of what S[ayer] is saying) (Attardo, 2000b, p 815). This is what Attardo calls the 'Principle of least disruption'. The ironic utterance may violate a maxim but remains relevant to the conversation and the context. When talking about relevance and 'appropriateness' of irony in a context, Attardo (2000b) presents some examples and extrapolates from these the notion that irony is a relevant utterance but either "explicitly or implicitly violates the conditions for contextual appropriateness, either deictically or more broadly in terms of the knowledge by the participants of the opinions and belief systems of the speakers" (2000b, p 817). Thus, for Attardo, an utterance is ironical if it is relevant and contextually inappropriate, of which the speaker is aware and intends for the hearer to pick up on. By including the aspect of contextual (in)appropriateness, Attardo broadens the Gricean approach. With 'appropriateness' Attardo (2000b) means the following: An utterance u is contextually appropriate [if] all presuppositions of u are identical to or compatible with all the presuppositions of the context C in which u is uttered (cf. the notion of 'common ground'; Clark, 1996), except for any feature explicitly thematized and denied in u. (Attardo, 2000, p 818) Attardo shows that appropriateness is truth-sensitive through the following example:
15 15 (1) John should leave the room. The utterance is appropriate if John is in the room. However, if John is not in the room, the utterance is inappropriate. To clarify the concept of relevant inappropriateness, an example from Fawlty Towers will be discussed. In this scene, Manuel, the Spanish waiter, is left in charge of the hotel for a couple of hours. A delivery man delivers a garden gnome but Manuel does not understand and thinks the man wants a room. Manuel: You want room 16? Delivery man: I don't want a room, mate. I'm just leaving [the gnome]. Manuel: You want room 16 for him? Delivery man: Yeah. With a bath, you dago twit. Here, the response of the delivery man is ironic and should thus be relevant inappropriate. It is relevant because the situation calls for an answer to Manuel's question. It is also inappropriate because the deliverer does not really want a room with a bath for the gnome. Thus, this utterance is relevant inappropriate and, as such, an example of irony according to Attardo's theory. Attardo s (2000b) appropriateness theory is meant to be an expansion of Grice s theory. It is broader and is context-based so that it can not only handle all instances of irony detectable by Grice s model, but also ironical statements that violate the appropriateness condition and that are context-based. To conclude this section on ironic theory, a reference should be made to Gibbs (2000) whose observation provides food for thought: "These competing ideas about irony may not be mutually exclusive, as each proposal may contribute to a comprehensive theory of ironic language use." (2000, p 7). He states that since irony is used with such variety, to achieve a variety of communicative goals, from estrangement to gentle teasing among friends, that one theory cannot encompass all examples of irony. Instead of following one specific theory, Gibbs thus proposes that all these theories contribute to an overall understanding of irony. 2.2 CLASSIFICATION Over the years, there have been several different classifications of irony. Haverkate (1990) points out that in the study of irony, scholars mostly focus on three types: verbal irony, dramatic irony and irony of fate. Haverkate states that verbal irony sets itself apart from the
16 16 other two because it is intentional. The speaker purposefully makes his statement ironic, for example in "What a great idea!" uttered when the speaker actually thinks it is a bad idea. Dramatic irony occupies "an intermediate position between verbal irony and irony of fate because it verbally reflects the latter by describing events which take place contrary to the expectation of the protagonists." (1990, p 78). As such, dramatic irony occurs when a speaker's actions or words have meaning to the audience, but that is lost to the characters themselves. A typical example of dramatic irony is the story of Oedipus, when Oedipus looks for his father's murderer not realizing it is himself. Irony of fate, or situational irony as Attardo (2000b) calls it, is defined by Haverkate as followed: "the irony of unforeseen processes and situations, which falsify the expectations of the observer." (1990, p 78). A fire station burning down to the ground is the example of situational irony Attardo gives. In this paper the focus will lie on verbal irony. According to Gibbs (2000), there are different types of verbal irony. In his article he reports the results of a study of ironic utterances in conversations among friends. Gibbs recorded sixty-two 10-minute conversations, which later proved to contain 289 ironic expressions, and analysed them for the purpose of discovering different types of irony and the linguistic and social patterns on how, how often and why people use irony. Gibbs distinguishes between five types of irony: jocularity, sarcasm, hyperbole, rhetorical questions, and understatements. Jocularity is a type of verbal irony that is used to tease people in a humorous way. Gibbs (2000) gives an example taken from his corpus: a) Why you guys dissin' on Latin? b) What, wo-ah, you're dissin' my Latin. (repeated in a mocking tone). Here, b) is a jocular response to a) as the speaker of b) is making fun of the speaker of a. Sarcasm is the type of irony in which the speaker says something positive but actually means the opposite, in order to criticize. For example, someone says "Great idea!" when they actually mean it is a very stupid idea. Hyperbole, according to Gibbs is "where speakers expressed their non-literal meaning by exaggerating the reality of the situation" (2000, p 12). Gibbs gives an example from his corpus: "I was like the happiest person on earth" (2000, p 13). Rhetorical questions are questions to which the speaker does not expect an answer and are ironic because they imply humorous or critical assertion. An example from Gibbs' research: "Isn't it so nice to have guests here?". Finally, understatements are used to ironically say less than what actually occurred. "James was just a bit late with his rent," (said when James was really late with his
17 17 rent) is another example that Gibbs gives. These types have in common, as Gibbs points out, that they are all based on the idea of the speaker expressing contrast between expectation and reality. Of the 289 utterances, Gibbs found 145 to be jocular, 80 sarcastic, 34 to be hyperboles, 24 to be rhetorical questions and 6 to be understatements. Although this paper will deal with all types of verbal irony, it would not seem necessary to distinguish here between sarcastic, jocular, hyperbolic, etc. in ironic utterances in Fawlty Towers and The Office. However, this distinction is still worth mentioning because it gives a clearer picture of what verbal irony is and how it can present itself. Knowing this can improve one's ability to recognize verbal irony and it can therefore be said that in some way this distinction performs the function of an ironic marker. 2.3 IRONIC FACTORS AND MARKERS It can be challenging to recognize irony and to correctly identify it as such. Pelsmaekers and Van Besien (2002) state that when a speaker uses irony but the hearer does not pick up on it, that means that the speech act was unsuccessful with respect to the hearer and the perlocutionary effect was not realized. This means that when the hearer interprets the meaning literally instead of ironically, the ironic meaning goes lost. Therefore, ironists will use ironic cues or markers to help the hearer understand that the utterance should be interpreted as ironic. These cues or markers can be verbal or non-verbal signs (2002, p 345). Despite not having reached a consensus about what the phenomenon of irony is precisely, some authors have dedicated their studies to identifying these ironic markers and factors Irony factors It is important to make a distinction between irony markers and irony factors, Attardo (2000a) points out in his article. He explains the difference as followed: An irony marker/indicator alerts the reader to the fact that a sentence is ironical. The sentence would, however, be ironical even without the marker. For example, a wink, before, during, or after a sentence meant as ironical will alert H[earer] (I.D.) to the fact that S[peaker] (I.D.) does not mean literally what he/she is saying. The sentence
18 18 would, however, still be ironical even if S had not provided H with the indication of its ironical status. (2000a, p7) Attardo notes that there is often confusion surrounding the distinction between irony markers and irony factors in practise because irony factors like exaggeration, understatement or contextual inappropriateness can sometimes already alert the reader to the ironical meaning, without the help of irony markers. Thus, these irony factors then seem to behave as irony markers and the distinction between irony markers and irony factors seems to disappear. Burgers, Van Mulken and Schellens (2012) based itself on Attardo's distinction (2000a) and composed a list of irony factors with made-up examples of ironic comments on investment ideas. The various factors were taken from various studies of other researchers like Gibbs (1986), Wilson and Sperber (1992), Attardo, etc. What follows below is the list by Burgers et al (2012, p 294): Factor Evaluativeness Explicitly evaluative Implicitly evaluative Incongruence Incongruent info absent Incongruent info present Valence Ironic praise Ironic blame Target Sender Addressee Third party Combination Relevance Directly relevant Indirectly relevant Example That was a great investment idea! Investing in company X really earned me a lot of money! That was a great investment idea! I just filed for bankruptcy because of your suggestion to invest in company X. That was a great investment idea (latter utterance ironic, first utterance not) That was a great investment idea! (when it was very bad) That was a horrible investment idea! (when it was very good) I had a great investment idea! You had a great investment idea! Mark had a great investment idea! You and Mark have great investment ideas! That was a great investment idea! I am rich now! Irony factors are listed here in this paper because, as Attardo (2000a) pointed out, sometimes the line between irony factors and irony markers gets blurred and irony factors can be said to perform the function of irony markers.
19 Irony markers When looking at irony markers, there is a distinction to be made. Haverkate (1990) suggests that in the study of irony there are two levels of analysis: intonation and syntax. He makes this distinction because on one hand, irony is often recognised by an ironic tone of voice and, as such, depends on intonation. However, on the other hand, as Haverkate points out, irony can be produced in written language as well and therefore, intonation "cannot be regarded as a necessary and sufficient condition for verbal irony to be created". (1990, p 80). Following Haverkate, the distinction will be made between linguistic irony markers and paralinguistic irony markers Linguistic irony markers Pelsmaekers and Van Besien (2002), like Haverkate (1990), distinguish between verbal and non-verbal ironic cues. Examples of verbal cues, according to them, are the use of hyperbolic expressions, hyperformality, intensifiers ("That's simply brilliant"; said to a student who failed), repetitions (see previous example of Gibbs), interjections, etc. (2002, pp ). Pelsmaekers and Van Besien also point out that an element that is markedly inappropriate in an otherwise non-marked sentence, can also be a cue for irony. They illustrate this with an example: "Let me congratulate you on this great lie." Here, they argue, "lie" is markedly inappropriate since you do not normally congratulate someone on telling a lie and thus alerts the reader that this sentence should not be taken literally. Another important study on linguistic irony markers was done by Burgers, Van Mulken and Schellens (2012). Burgers et al. studied the use of verbal irony in six different written genres of text. In order to do this, they compounded a list of (linguistic) irony markers, based on markers suggested by Muecke (1978), Barbe (1995), Haiman (1998), etc. Each marker is exemplified by a made-up example of ironic comments on a bad idea. What follows is an adjusted copy of this list (2012, p 296):
20 20 Marker Tropes as irony markers Metaphor Hyperbole Understatement Rhetorical question Schematic irony markers Ironic repetition Ironic echo Change of register Morpho-syntactic irony markers Exclamation Tag question Focus topicalization Interjections Diminutives Typographic irony markers Different typography Capitalization Quotation marks Other punctuation marks Example You are a rocket scientist. That was the best idea in the history of mankind. That idea is quite OK. Could your idea be any better? It is a great idea. It is a GREAT idea. It is a "great" idea. It is a great [!] idea. Emoticons It is a great idea ;-) Crossed-out text It is a terribly great idea. Other special signs Your Idea TM is great. "John will come up with a good idea" -> Indeed, that's a good idea. Indeed, that's a good idea. You may grant me the honor of listening to another one of your fine ideas (said to a friend). Great idea! That's a great idea, isn't it? A great idea that is, I believe. Well, it is a great idea. "Dat was een goed ideetje." That was a great little idea Paralinguistic irony markers Paralinguistic irony markers are those markers that have nothing to do with written language but with spoken language, gestures and the tone of voice of the speaker. Haverkate (1990, pp 79-80) states that strengthening of the intensity accent, lengthening of syllabic quantity and nasal articulation are three important features of intonation required for recognizing irony. Pelsmaekers and Van Besien (2002, p ) list nasalization, slow and emphatic speech, snorting sounds and marked intonation as examples of non-verbal cues of irony, or paralinguistic irony markers. Attardo (2000a) does not distinguish between the two categories of irony markers but does provide a list of markers, as defined and used by others (Muecke (1978); Schaffer (1982);
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