Article published in:New Perspectives on Utterance Interpretation and Implicit Contents
Edited by Daniela Rossi and Nicolas Ruytenbeek
[Belgian Journal of Linguistics 28] 2014
► pp. 3–18
Resonating with default nonsalient interpretations
A corpus-based study of negative sarcasm
Based on natural language use, we examine the contextual environment of some negative constructions (e.g., Punctuality is not her forte/best attribute). Previous findings show that, as predicted by the view of default nonliteral interpretations, such negative constructions are interpreted nonliterally by default: (a) when presented in isolation, they are interpreted sarcastically and rated as sarcastic compared to affirmative counterparts; (b) when embedded in equally strongly biasing contexts, they are processed faster in sarcastically than in literally biasing contexts (Giora et al., 2013; Giora, Drucker et al., 2014). Here we test a third prediction that, unlike affirmative sarcasm, (c) such negative utterances will convey a sarcastic interpretation and their natural environment will echo their nonsalient (sarcastic) interpretation rather than their salience-based (literal) interpretation (Giora et al., 2010, 2013). Findings from 2 corpus-based studies of (Hebrew and English) negative constructions lend usage-based support to the view of default nonliteral interpretations (Giora et al., 2010, 2013; Giora, Drucker et al., 2014). They show that when occurring in natural discourses, such utterances communicate sarcasm significantly more often than their alternative affirmatives. Their neighboring utterances further reflect their nonsalient sarcastic interpretation rather than their salience-based nonsarcastic interpretation.
Published online: 28 November 2014
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