Friday, May 19, 2017

Irony in Print and an Irritating Expresson

Ever since Alanis Morrissette invented irony, it has been an attitudinal expression of choice among people of a broad range of ages, especially on the internet. Maybe it's a Millennial or Gen-X thing especially, or maybe it's part of a widespread shtick used by late-night comedians that became mainstream. I don't know.

Anyway, a message containing irony or its coarser brother, sarcasm, can be indicated as such by tone, pitch, or facial expression when heard and seen, This is not so easy when the medium is strictly print. Consider a simple sentence: "Good work, men." This can imply a simple praising of a group or (less often) a snide comment, like when a collective effort fails due to incompetence or overlooking something. In speech the hearer can gain a sense of the message; but in print no such reservations are communicated. This is the problem.


On the internet there is the convention that the use of capital letters is the equivalent of shouting, as: "READ THE MANUAL BEFORE USE" as opposed to the more subdued "Read the manual before use." We also need a way to communicate irony or sarcasm as well. Perhaps using something like italics, or boldface, or maybe different colored type would do. Or, we can just admit that irony or sarcasm doesn't easily fly well in written form when used by the unskilled. Jonathan Swift and Voltaire did manage well, though.

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And there's that unnecessary phrase, "Just sayin'."  Where did this irritating expression come from?  And what does this mean? Is this an attempt to say something snide or serious without assuming responsibility for ownership? Or is it just a means of filling space with sound? Recently, President Trump seems to use this expression a lot. 


8 comments:

Linda Kay said...

The one that irritates me is the "Give it up for....." when asking for applause for someone. Ugh!

John Hill said...

Irony and sarcasm are difficult in print and equally dangerous from unskilled users and slow witted readers.

Mike said...

Sometimes a well placed all caps can work depending on the sentence. But it has to be VERY well placed.

Cloudia said...

'Grooming language' I call it. Not about idea-communication, but about bonding. [which the prez is furiously trying to stay with his big base of angry and idiots out there]

A fun and meaningful post to ponder!

Cloudia said...

The 'I'm just sayin' is grooming language, I mean. Sarcasm does take a talented writer to convey in print. Thou art correct

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Just sayin' is so useless an expression.

Grand Crapaud said...

Irony is a skill most have not learned how to do,

Bilbo said...

How about "believe me" ???