From blame by praise to praise by blame: analysis of vocal patterns in ironic communication

Maria Rita Ciceri, Luigi Maria Anolli, Maria Giaele Infantino

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Irony, as "quotation" and "fencing game," consists of an interactive script, grounded on a focal event "trigger," in which the dialogic comment shows the ironist's intention through an antiphrastic process and syncoding to "hit" the victim of the irony (blame by praise or praise by blame). Through acoustic analysis of the suprasegmental profiles of standard phrases inserted into inductors expressly composed and read by 50 naive subjects, the presence and nature of significant differences between sarcastic and kind irony in low- and high-context utterances (contextualization effect--Experiments 1 and 2) have been verified. It has also been observed that, where more "specific weight" is given to the linguistic stream (corrective irony hypothesis), a markedness of suprasegmental features emerges (correctivity effect--Experiment 3). Finally, comparison between sarcastic irony and blame and between kind irony and praise shows that there exists a precise manner of contrastive syncoding, whereby the voices of irony do not coincide with those of direct blame or praise, but assume a specific caricature and emphatic profile (contrastivity effect--Experiment 4).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIrany in language and thought
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • irony
  • vocal


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