You' re a Real Genius!: Irony as miscommunication design

Luigi Maria Anolli, Maria Giaele Infantino, Maria Rita Ciceri

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In a standard (rhetoric) perspective ironic communication is considered a semantic inversion between the literal (primary) meaning and the nonliteral (implicated) one. Nevertheless, in common use irony is not necessarily bound to the rhetoric concept of semantic inversion. Rather, it can be defined as an alteration of a reference aiming at stressing the reality of a fact by means of the apparent dissimulation of its true nature. In a communicative perspective, irony aims to get an effective protection of interpersonal relationships, so as to leave wide ranges of freedom for managing both meanings and interaction. The point of view herein followed concerns irony as a paradigmatic expression of miscommunication, since it is a chance in widening the psychological space available to the communicators. Irony as miscommunication fits rather well the MaCHT framework proposed by Anolli. In fact, by means of an ironic remark, the speaker can lay the responsibility of the ironic value of the utterance on the intention ascription of the interlocutor. In particular, the present chapter intends to sketch out a new theoretical perspective of ironic communication as miscommunication, by proposing the fencing game (or irony situation) model. Here irony is not considered only as a comment or remark at a linguistic level but also as a complex communicative interaction between interlocutors, depending on contextual constraints and opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSay not to say.New perspectives on miscommunication
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • communication


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