From blame by praise, to praise by blame. Analysis of vocal pattern of ironic communication

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Abstract

From a communication psychology point of view, irony is not only a rhetorical figure or a cunning linguistic device, but also an articulated strategy for a flexible negotiation of meaning, as well as for establishing and maintaining relations with others. Within the "irony family" phenomena our attention is focused on the sarcastic irony generated in a conflict context ("praise by blame") and on the kind irony produced in a cooperation context ("blame by praise"). The effects of the variability of contextual cues on the vocal variables (Fo, energy, time) of irony were studied. Through the analysis of the vocal features of standard phrases in a conflict or cooperation context, an ironic dominant pattern has been found consisting of caricatured vocal traits, although differences referring to the two ironic expressions came out. From a subject-by-subject analysis, four ironic patterns were obtained: (1) in the cooperation context (a) a rather high and changeable pitch and strong energy ("bantering" joy) were observed, as well as (b) a low and monotone pitch and strong energy (emphatic mark of tenderness); (2) in the conflict context (a) a very high and changeable pitch, strong energy, and slow rate of articulation ("accented banter") were found, as well as (b) a low and not very changeable pitch, slow rate of articulation, and steadily soft energy (like scorn and cold anger). Following these four vocal patterns, the ironic voice could be defined as a "voice of banter." In such a way, irony appears as a method used to manipulate the weight of indirect speech, which allows the efficacy of the word and the innocence of silence. Moreover, the ironist can be described as an able director of his own image, able to play with the voice. Within social relationships, in fact, he can use his own voice for calibrating strategically his ways of (un) masking himself to the others.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)266-276
Numero di pagine11
RivistaInternational Journal of Psychology
Volume37
DOI
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2002

Keywords

  • IRONY
  • VOICE

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