Sarcasm and Irony

Tuesday, 2006-09-26; 12:46:00

Two conversations about sarcasm and irony

About a month ago, I had two conversations with two different people, in which we discussed sarcasm and irony. I think they're really funny, and also very educational. Here they are:

Simone: Bahaha: "it is very nice that it only takes so few posts to make you create a useful error description. You could extend the period of nice chit chat with just posting 'something doesn't work here' next time."
Diedel: hehe
Diedel: I had my ironic day ...
Simone: Sarcastic, you mean. :P
Diedel: no, sarcasm is bitter
Diedel: well, maybe a little
Simone: Lol not necessarily.
Diedel: yeah youre right
Simone: I don't think that was an ironic statement at all. Irony is unexpected, sarcasm is always on purpose.
Diedel: irony is not unexpected, but I'd say sarcasm contains significantly more mockery
Diedel: it's rather a direct attack
Diedel: than irony
Diedel: hard to define, imho


Simone: (Anyway, I dunno, I think the words sarcasm and irony have been convoluted by people misusing them that their definition has become muddied. To me, sarcasm is when you deliberately say something opposite of what you mean -- it can be bitter, it can be mocking, but it doesn't necessarily have to. Irony, however, is when the situation is funny because something unexpected happens which makes it amusing. Something sarcastic is usually not ironic, and vice versa.)
Diedel: I disagree. Irony can be applied intentionally, but usually it's less ... let's say aggressive
Simone: Hrm, give an example, maybe?
Diedel: just trying to figure one
Simone: :)
Diedel: hard when looking for bugs
Simone: I suppose in some sense irony can be intentional if, for example, you're a writer and you fabricate a funny/unexpected situation.
Diedel: If I say 'me, being the greatest programmer in the world, completely infallable, would never create such a bug'
Diedel: it's pretty ironic
Diedel: if I say that after you have just pointed out a bug to me I had introduced
Simone: I would say that's sarcastic, then, because you know you did create such a bug and so you're saying something you know isn't true (and meaning the opposite).
Diedel: actually irony means saying the opposite of what is meant, seemingly being completely serious when doing it
Diedel: no that's not sarcastic
Diedel: sarcasm has a more negative notion to it
Simone: I disagree. I don't think sarcasm has any judgmental aspect attached to it. True, it is almost always used in a negative sense, but it doesn't have to.
Diedel: I am inline with Wikipedia, btw.
Simone: Psh. And I could edit it and you wouldn't be. :P
Diedel: sarcasm has a bitterness to it
Diedel: sarcasm is if the bully just beat you and says "Did you like it? Want some more?" and you reply "Of course! Double portion!"
Diedel: (Actually saying "stupid question you fkn moron")
Diedel: don't be so sarcastic :P
Diedel: your reply was pretty sarcastic
Diedel: but not ironic
Simone: Lol the one regarding Wikipedia?
Diedel: yes
Diedel: see?
Simone: Yeah, I'd say that was sarcastic, too, and not ironic.
Simone: But that doesn't prove anything!
Diedel: no, but the opposite!
Diedel: (figure that one :P)
Simone: Gah. :P
Simone: Say someone asked me "Did you finish your homework?" and I responded "Oh, of course I did" and roll me eyes, indicating that I obviously hadn't finished it. That's not bitter. I'm just deliberately saying the opposite.
Diedel: Mother asks son who wants to leave and see friends: "Did you finish your homework?"
Diedel: Son replies "Would I ever leave w/o finishing it?" and has a reputation for doing so, thats very ironic
Diedel: but not sarcastic
Simone: No, that's very much sarcastic.
Diedel: no
Diedel: it is not
Diedel: its ironic
Diedel: it's not intended to hurt
Simone: No, it's not. But that doesn't mean it's ironic.
Diedel: ISSO!
Simone: Ironic would be if he was a good student when ha said that statement, and then from that day on he always left without completing his homework.
Diedel: no, then it would be a lie, because the irony wouldn't be detectable
Simone: Not for any deliberate reasons because of that statement, but just because at that point he turned into a bad student.
Diedel: ISSO!
Diedel: nope
Diedel: negative
Simone: No it wouldn't be a lie because at the time he said it it was true.
Simone: The fact that he changed the day after he said the statement is what makes it ironic. The situation makes it ironic, not the statement.
Diedel: btw, isso = German short form of 'Das ist so', meaning "it's like that', but can also translate to "Ich Schrei SOnst" meaning "or I'll start to scream"
Diedel: no
Simone: Haha.
Diedel: irony is not necessarily unintentional. that's a wrong concept on your side
Simone: See, that's ironic right there.
Simone: I thought "ISSO" was just a typo of "is so", which would make sense as a response.
Diedel: no it's not
Diedel: you're right!
Simone: Sarcastic is if I said "ISSO!" back to you after you told me the real meaning of it.
Diedel: no, that would just be funny
Diedel: I am seeing a nice hires animation now ...
Simone: Oh, just change the subject. :rolleyes:
Diedel: I don't think we will agree on this, and imo you are wrong
Diedel: ;)
Diedel: you must be because I am always right
Simone: Lol, no, sarcasm!
Simone: Because you know you're NOT always right. :P
Diedel: you are playing with your life ... gnaarrrrrrrrrrrrlllll
Diedel: no it's irony because its not malicious
Simone: Irony would be if you DID think you were always right after I said that.
Diedel: no
Simone: But in a sense, it is malicious, because you're trying to win an argument. :P
Simone: Now THERE'S irony.
Diedel: I am not trying to win it, I am trying to finish it as it's pointless
Diedel: noticed the 'imo'?
Simone: Lol but if you weren't trying to win it, why bother discussing it at all? :P
Diedel: now stop it I tend to get aggressive if people disagree with me over an extended period of time, like let's say 5 minutes or more :P
Simone: Haha!
Diedel: hehehe
Simone: See, now that's ironic because I tend to have the same trait. ;)
Simone: (OK OK I'll stop. :P )
Diedel: just let me send you this nice new version of netmisc.c with some special Mac code ... :P
Simone: Haha!
Simone: *must resist urge to say whether that was sarcasm or irony*
Diedel: irony, what else ............ (where's the BIG BLACK DOTS?)
Diedel: rofl
Simone: Lol.
Simone: *** simX privately wonders what the "BIG BLACK DOTS" are, and again contemplates whether that makes the statement ironic or sarcastic.
Diedel: when I typed 'irony what else ....' I felt like hitting the keyboard stronger and stronger with every dot I typed, and I felt the need to make each dot bigger and bigGER and BIGGER !!!
Diedel: hehehehehe
Simone: Hahahahaha.
Diedel: btw, Aus-RED has created a hires homing missile powerup animation from the D3 missile
Diedel: not the polymodel, the sprite you see when one floats around
Simone: ... TF? Where?
Diedel: it's private ... :P
Simone: :P
Diedel: I don't suppose you want to have it?
Diedel: (Irony! HAH!)
Simone: I wouldn't dream of ever wanting something private.
Diedel: Now you have to reply: Never. How could you think?
Simone: (Sarcasm! HAH!)
Diedel: ha! great, an ironic reply!
Diedel: you liar!
Diedel: hehehe
Simone: Lol.
Simone: And you said you were going to drop it. :rolleyes:
Simone: (Ha! Sarcasm!)
Diedel: I can only win. :P
Simone: Haha. That would be a funny game. You start out with a statement or a topic, and you have the "sarcastic" team and the "ironic" team. The sarcastic team can only give sarcastic responses, and the ironic team can only give ironic responses. :P
Diedel: sheesh this looks nice ...
Simone: Memememememememememememememememe!
Diedel: are you sure the teams would live long enough for a jury to determine a winner? :P
Diedel: (Irony!)
Diedel: hold on
Diedel: hehehe
Diedel: I hope you can wait ...
Diedel: (Sarcasm!)
Simone: No, the judge would obviously be a perfect and valid judge on the nuances between irony and sarcasm and would deliver verdicts in fractions of a second. (More sarcasm!)
Diedel: agreed
Simone: Now you just made it ironic. :P
Diedel: how boring. we are having the same opinion. :P
Simone: Haha, see that was sarcasm. :P
Diedel: where's the fun in life w/o a nice little war.
Diedel: (Sarcasm)
Simone: Oh, I genuinely agree. (Really.) (Now that's irony. :P )
Simone: (War in the metaphorical sense, of course.)
Diedel: I'll blow the missile to KB's web space
Simone: Mmmm... hi-res homing misile.
Simone: *missile.
Diedel: :P
Diedel: missle
Diedel: i know
Diedel: type
Diedel: p
Diedel: o
Diedel: dang
Simone: Haha.
Diedel: where's my keys, they must of changed their positions!
Diedel: "must of" :P
Diedel: harhar
Simone: Lol.
Diedel: someone coined the expression to 'Mobius' someone
Simone: Lol, when I see that mistake on the web, it kinda pisses me off. :P
Diedel: do you know Mobius from the DBB?
Simone: No..
Diedel: Pure Grammar Nazi
Simone: Ah, lol.
Simone: Actually, I'm quite a grammar nazi myself. :P
Diedel: but once someone got him.
Diedel: And his reply was most noteworthy, I must admit:
Diedel: Who lives by the word shall die by the word ...
Simone: Hahaha!
Diedel: bwwaaahahahaha
Diedel: so funny
Diedel: still have to laugh
Simone: Haha yeah that's pretty good.
Diedel: extremely pointed
Simone: OK, see that would be an example of deliberate irony, I can admit.
Diedel: link is up, under Aus-RED's textures
Diedel: seeeeee! hah!
Simone: But not any of your other examples. :P


*** Diedel is relieved
Diedel: ooooh with timestamp of relief! :P
Simone: Haha how do you do that?
*** Diedel shrugs
Diedel: slash me something
Diedel: print the actual slash and no space
Simone: /tests this out.
*** Diedel is so smart
Simone: /apparently is not.
Diedel: '/'me
Diedel: now omit the 's
*** Simone is dumb.
*** Simone figures it out.
*** Simone 's fuzzy logic is not on.
Diedel: lol
Diedel: rofl
*** Diedel is always hungry
*** Simone gives Diedel a snack of irony-crackers.
Diedel: crunch


Simone: Did you see our Microsoft-friend offered to give you a Mac? :P
Diedel: yes, but he lives in the U.S. and I in Germany
Simone: Yeah. :\
Diedel: he can't throw it that far I guess
Diedel: (Irony!)
Diedel: :P
Simone: I dunno, maybe if you didn't live so far away from Silicon Valley, you might be able to get a Mac. (Sarcasm!)
Diedel: no sarcasm here :P
Simone: Shall I inflict some Mac-fanboyism on you? :P
Diedel: yes that's exactly what I need now
Diedel: (Sarcasm)
Simone: Yeah, I know, we all should be using Mac OS X, shouldn't we. (Sarcasm!)
Diedel: then the world would hate jobbs and wozniak instead of gates
Simone: None of that DirectX bullshit on our platform. (Serious!)
Diedel: oh yes only OpenGL 2
Simone: Heh heh heh.

And the second:

Bryce: someone should get a pilot that's a demigod at (rounding error) 0% efficiency
Simone: Lol why?
Bryce: 1. it'd be hard 2. it could never be demoted :P
Simone: Well, getting to demigod is hard anyways, and once you get past a certain number of kills you can't be demoted.
Simone: Once you get past... let's see...
Bryce: well yeah, that would be definitely impossible to demote
Simone: 4950 kills, you're automatically demigod.
Simone: No matter your efficiency.
Bryce: right, but I'm saying, if you're a demigod at 0% efficiency it's guaranteed
Simone: But if you're a demigod at 4950 kills, it's also guaranteed.
Bryce: if you're a demigod at 4950 kills you could be at 0% efficiency, same thing
Bryce: to just become a demigod at 0% you'd have just gotten your 4950th
Bryce: but it'd be funny due to irony
Bryce: also hard because you'd have to die so much :P
Simone: Not really because it'd have to practically be intentional. :P
Bryce: well yeah
Simone: So how is that ironic? :P
Bryce: intended irony can be funny
Simone: Eh, intended irony is extremely difficult to achieve, and that's not it.
Bryce: well, ironic situations that are intended might not actually be ironic but you can imagine, and that's the point :P
Simone: Exactly, irony is almost always unintended.
Simone: Oh, but you have to hear this tidbit of intended irony, it's priceless:
Bryce: well, what would you call something like *thinks* a midget driving a hummer in a circus or something like that?
Simone: Hahaha. That's just hilarious. :P
Bryce: pff :P
Bryce: humor by contrast, whatever
Bryce: so what's your irony?
Simone: Hold on. :P
Bryce: dot dot dot!
Simone: Actually, I had a huge discussion with the developer of d2x-xl over this.
Simone: I was thinking of posting it to my weblog it was hilarous.
Simone: *hilarious.
Bryce: less typo correction, more irony!
Simone: Shhh! Finding!
Bryce: oh, I thought you knew it :P
Simone: "someone coined the expression to 'Mobius' someone"
Simone: "do you know Mobius from the DBB?"
Simone: "Pure Grammar Nazi"
Bryce: DBB?
Simone: (
Simone: "but once someone got him."
Bryce: ah
Simone: "And his reply was most noteworthy, I must admit:"
Simone: "Who lives by the word shall die by the word ..."
Simone: THAT'S intended irony. :P
Bryce: mm
Simone: Not this stupid demigod with 0% efficiency. :rolleyes:
Bryce: so what's "to 'Mobius'" someone?
Simone: Doing that.
Bryce: what?
Simone: Turning around a total loss by making an ironic statement.
Bryce: as in, the grammar nazi gets caught making a mistake, and then mistypes a phrase into something relevant as a reply?
Simone: No, not mistyping.
Bryce: well, intentionally
Simone: What do you mean? There was no typo whatsoever.
Bryce: "who lives by the sword dies by the sword"
Bryce: was typed without ss to be something relevant
Simone: Heh has nothing to do with that.
Bryce: then I don't get it
Simone: Lol.
Simone: Now THAT'S irony. :P
Bryce: maybe I don't understand what series of events unfolded
Simone: Lol he's a GRAMMAR nazi, working with words. So he will be meticulous about his own language, so it's a very rare occasion when someone can get him on a grammar point. But on the one rare occasion when someone did, he turned it back around on them with an ironic statement. So even though he was skewered, he wasn't really.
Simone: *throws down hands* Nevermind. Now you took all the fun out of it. :P
Bryce: but what turning around occurred?
Simone: Because instead of having to admit his mistake, he admitted it but with a very clever statement.
Bryce: and that's ironic?
Simone: Yes.
Bryce: not as far as I can tell :P
Simone: Well you're wrong. :P
Bryce: irony is the grammar nazi making a mistake when correcting someone
Simone: No, that's just human.
Bryce: no, I mean it's an ironic occurrence
Simone: Yeah, I guess, but not as ironic as someone getting the nazi and then him making a clever statement regarding that situtaion.
Simone: *situation.
Bryce: I don't see how that is ironic at all..
Simone: Because it's unexpected! It's a total twist of the situation. You would expect that the nazi would have to be really humble and apologize/admit his mistake.
Bryce: of course, a Google "define:irony" is not getting any results of what I think irony means :P
Bryce: replying: I would expect that?
Bryce: it just seems he's witty
Simone: What would you expect? That the nazi makes sausages?
Bryce: a clever turn of phrase isn't irony...
Bryce: lol, sausages
Simone: Yes, it is irony, because the turn of phrase specifically refers to the ironic situtation.
Simone: *situation
Bryce: ah, finally: "rony usually emphasizes the contrast between the way things are expected to be and the way they actually are."
Bryce: *irony
Simone: Exactly.
Bryce: so, I'd say his response is just a witty retort, and not part of the irony itself
Simone: Um, no. What would you have expected if you saw a nazi getting skewered by a mistake he makes?
Bryce: depends on the person
Bryce: I don't know this Mobius, so I don't have expectations on his response
Simone: Lol no it doesn't depend on the person.
Bryce: well, obviously it does, since he did something you didn't expect :P
Simone: So you agree it's unexpected. :P
Bryce: to you
Simone: Lol so if I asked you "What would you expect someone to say if they were asked what 2 + 2 was", you'd say it depends on the person?
Bryce: yeah; if they have a history of, say, brain damage, or intentionally wrong answers for the sake of whatever reason they have for doing that, I'd expect a wrong answer
Simone: So you wouldn't say that in the vast majority of cases, you know what the response would be.
Bryce: now, in that example, few people would not answer correctly
Simone: But there's always a possibility.
Simone: So by your logic, it's not unexpected that they would answer 5.
Bryce: in the example of Mr. Mobius, I'd say a reply to getting caught on your own pet peeve is less standard
Bryce: sim: I'm saying that would be the expectation unless I already knew the person, since that's a very expectable case
Bryce: and I'm saying the case in the joke is not nearly as predictable
Simone: No, but it is.
Bryce: well, answer this
Bryce: by "grammar nazi" do you mean someone who gets all in a huff about people making grammar mistakes, or just someone who frequently corrects people calmly?
Simone: It doesn't matter.
Simone: A grammar nazi is someone who frequently corrects people and knows the grammar rules.
Simone: Either way, the expected response to being skewered themselves is not appreciably different.
Bryce: I do not feel the case of a grammar nazi responding to getting caught making a grammar mistake is anywhere near as predictable as the reply to asking someone what is 2+2
Bryce: lots of people have good humor :P
Simone: But 99% of the people I know who are grammar nazis would not be able to perform the quick turnabout on their feet like that guy did.
Simone: You're splitting hairs.
Bryce: perhaps if they were outright flamed by the skewerer, it would change things, since they would also be countering an inflammatory statement
Simone: Lol, no.
Simone: You're making it seem like saying "four" and "ummm... four" and "oooh! i know that! four!" are all "different" answers to the 2+2 question.
Bryce: but quick wit isn't all that unexpected, particularly for a grammar nazi, who I'd expect to be better with words and language than just anyone
Bryce: and no
Simone: Lol, no quick wit has nothing to do with being a grammar nazi. It just means that they are peeved when people use incorrect grammar.
Simone: And yes.
Bryce: ok, going on what you said then: if it has nothing to do with their being a grammar nazi, what does it have to do with the situation?
Simone: That the quick wit was unexpected!!
Bryce: but it's not!
Simone: Yes it is!
Bryce: *repeat ad infinitum*
Simone: Lol, when I say the word "man", do you read into it that the guy has brown hair, is 6 feet tall, and has blue eyes?
Bryce: no; what does that have to do with this?
Simone: Same thing with "grammar nazi". You can't associate any other attributes with a grammar nazi other than that he corrects people on grammar all the freakin' time!
Simone: Asking whether he does it calmly or inflammatorily (word?) makes no difference.
Bryce: right, so why was it so amazingly unexpected he'd have a witty response?
Simone: Because wit is totally disassociated from being a grammar nazi.
Bryce: did you know something about him that would lead you to believe he wouldn't reply like that?
Simone: No. And that's the point. It's not something you expect, because you don't associate any particular attribute with a grammar nazi other than he's a nazi about grammar.
Simone: OK, take this:
Bryce: great; now why was quick wit unexpected, and why was it ironic, if it's absolutely unassociated?
Simone: There's a door.
Bryce: no, it's a jar
Simone: You open it, someone's on the other side staring at you. Is that expected or not?
Bryce: har, continue
Bryce: it's not expected, but neither is it so unexpected as to be terribly noteworthy
Simone: Um... right.
Simone: You wouldn't be startled at all?
Bryce: I would
Simone: OK. So why?
Simone: Was there anything that led you to believe that there was not someone behind the door?
Bryce: because it is somewhat unexpected, and having someone suddenly appear in close proximity to you unless you were specifically expecting it is always startling
Bryce: now, if a grammar nazi replys with quick wit, I'd not have expected anything in particular, so it was neither expected nor particularly unexpected
Simone: Lol, but it's the same thing with the door. If it's unexpected, why? There was nothing in particular that led you to believe that no one was going to be behind that door.
Bryce: it's not the same thing, it's a different situation!
Simone: No, it's not.
Simone: The same thing with the grammar nazi.
Bryce: the level of unexpectedness depends on the specific case
Simone: Regardless of whether or not he responds with calmness or not, it's still unexpected.
Bryce: for example, being hit by lightning is a lot more unexpected than tripping when walking
Simone: So lightning is ironic.
Bryce: not at all
Simone: But you were walking along, and you didn't expect to be hit by lightining.
Bryce: being hit by lighting after taking all the things you thought were precautions, but one turned out to worsen your situation...that would be irony
Simone: Yes, I agree.
Bryce: just plain being hit by lightning would be random :P
Simone: I agree. But isn't someone staring at you behind a door just as random? Why are you startled?
Bryce: again, it depends on the case
Simone: But it doesn't.
Bryce: you can't compare like that!
Simone: Sure I can.
Bryce: first of all, irony isn't the unexpected, it's the counter to the expected (roughly)
Simone: Whether or not the guy is a stalker or whether it's just your mom, it still startles you, even though you expect a stalker to do that kind of thing.
Bryce: irony would be you opening the door because you think someone is stalking you, to find it's your mom just about to open the door, perhaps
Simone: I agree.
Simone: But you still haven't explained why you get startled, even though you have no reason to be.
Bryce: just opening a door finding someone standing there, no
Simone: I agree with that too.
Bryce: I did explain why I was startled
Simone: No, you didn't. You have no reason to believe that there is or is not a person behind the door!
Bryce: the expectations depend on the case!
Bryce: in general, I would expect there to not be a person!
Bryce: but I would expect less to be hit by lightning
Simone: But why would you expect there not to be a person? WHY?
Simone: In that specific situation, there's no reason for you to expect that!
Bryce: sigh
Bryce: by specific situation, I mean more class of situations
Bryce: expectations are generalizations
Simone: I don't care about the situation, or expectations, or generalizations. Answer the question! WHY do you get startled? You have no reason to be!
Bryce: I answered that!
Bryce: "because it's always startling to have someone appear in close proximity to you if you weren't specifically expecting it"
Bryce: or at least, it is to me; someone else could be different
Simone: You're begging the question. You're saying it's unexpected because you're not expecting it.
Simone: WHY are you not expecting it?
Simone: What leads you to not expect it?
Bryce: because nobody previously said they'd be coming up close to me, because I didn't hear them approaching, etc.
Simone: There has to be something.
Bryce: because people don't appear out of thin air
Simone: But you're generalizing on the people. Maybe there's an alien that DOES appear out of thin air. Maybe someone IS stalking you.
Bryce: because generally speaking, a great number of times I've opened doors, there has not been a person on the other side and I've grown accustomed to it
Simone: Great! That's an answer!
Simone: What I'm trying to point out is that it doesn't depend on any specific attribute of the person behind the door, just as it doesn't matter on any specific attribute of the grammar nazi.
Bryce: so, you've grown accustomed to people not responding with wit to being accused of their own pet peeve?
Bryce: btw, I've not
Simone: In the vast majority of cases that I know about, people are usually caught off guard when they get nailed on their own peeve.
Simone: You wouldn't agree with that?
Bryce: I would say that a majority do, but not such an overwhelming majority that I've grown so accustomed to rarely seeing the other case that it stands out
Bryce: and that sounds like the difference
Bryce: agreed? I need sleep :P
Simone: Well, I guess that's the difference. But I still would disagree on that specific point, because I've rarely seen a turnabout of wit like that.
Bryce: now, I might also say it's not irony, since I feel there is a large difference between something "unexpected" and something that's "not what is specifically expected", the key being specifically, but that's a topic for another time
Simone: Lol I would disagree. :rolleyes:

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