Echo and Pretending in Communicative Irony



The paper develops a speech-act based account of communicative irony. A central idea behind the proposed model is that verbal acts of ironizing fall under what John L. Austin called the doctrine of the etiolation of language. After discussing the notion of communicative irony construed along the lines of Mitchell S. Green’s model of expressive communication, we elaborate on the Austinian idea of linguistic etiolation by contrasting the serious and etiolated uses of language, where the latter are parasitical on the mechanisms of the former. We argue that echoing and overt pretending are two complementary techniques of linguistic etiolation that enable one to perform acts of expressing one’s negative attitudes towards contextually available mental or linguistic representations. We also show that the proposed model of linguistic etiolation allows us to account for a number of verbal cases of communicative irony.

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