Jul 012009

talking_sheepSarcasm has been a mystery to me in the US.  Popular wisdom amongst Brits is Americans don’t get it, and popular wisdom amongst Americans is it’s ‘bad’. Yet I seem to find myself surrounded by it here.

Well, I read a great post on sarcasm tonight. Here are some extracts

Over the course of my research into the differences between American and British (especially English) sarcasm however, it became clear to me that the difference isn’t so much in the way we use it, as in the way we define it.

Yep, think I’d already twigged that one .

While the AmE definition emphasi{s/z}es negativity and saying the opposite of what is meant, Brits seem to have a far broader definition, which includes humorous exchange, clever wordplay and affectionate insults or criticisms of others (even those we don’t know, which I think may be the most fundamental cultural difference).

So perhaps this confusion is largely about how close we are to the people we’re teasing/insulting? Well I never! Now I have a new way of looking at things to put on and try out for a while.

This might make life on this side of the pond a lot less confusing – Thank you Solo!

 Posted by at 5:59 am

  3 Responses to “What is sarcasm?”

  1. This reminds me of a joke someone told me, maybe you know it?

    A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative.

    However,” he pointed out, “there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative.”

    A voice from the back of the room piped up, “Yeah, right.”

  2. Ha! Love it, Chris!

  3. […] sense. (Very briefly, BrE = the opposite of what you mean, AmE = nasty or unkind – see here and here for more on that […]

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