Pretence and Echo: Towards an Integrated Account of Verbal Irony

International Review of Pragmatics 6 (1):127–168 (2014)
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Two rival accounts of irony claim, respectively, that pretence and echo are independently sufficient to explain central cases. After highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of these accounts, I argue that an account in which both pretence and echo play an essential role better explains these cases and serves to explain peripheral cases as well. I distinguish between “weak” and “strong” hybrid theories, and advocate an “integrated strong hybrid” account in which elements of both pretence and echo are seen as complementary in a unified mechanism. I argue that the allegedly mutually exclusive elements of pretence and echo are in fact complementary aspects enriching a core structure as follows: by pretending to have a perspective/thought F, an ironic speaker U echoes a perspective/thought G. F is merely pretended, perhaps caricaturised or exaggerated, while G is real/possible.
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