Who is the victim? When the addresser of the echoed utterance and the target of the irony differ

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The goal of this contribution is to explore the relationship between the target of certain ironic instances and the source of their echoic mentions (Sperber and Wilson, "Irony and the use-mention distinction," in Peter Cole's Radical Pragmatics, Academic Press, New York, 1981; Wilson and Sperber, "On verbal irony," Lingua 87, 1992), discussing specific cases in which the originators of the ironic utterances or opinions echoed could not be conceived as victims of the irony. As most accounts of irony claim, it necessarily involves criticism, in which case it should have a victim or a target. Sperber and Wilson's Echoic Mention Theory suggests that an ironical remark will have as natural targets the originators of the utterances echoed. Following their account, the target of the irony should be the addresser of the echoed utterance. However, in our corpus of ten full-length literary works and excerpts from the Israeli media, we have found ironic occurrences, which seemed to express at least some sort of criticism if not more, where the echoic source would not make a plausible target for the irony. It may be suggested that the reason for the discrepancies is that these utterances also present cues for humor or traces of parody.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-211
Number of pages23
JournalText and Talk
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by De Gruyter Mouton 2017.


  • Echoic Mention Theory
  • humor
  • irony
  • parody
  • pragmatics


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