Irony in the face(s) of politeness

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This paper examines the possible strategies behind the use of verbal irony in Czech political TV-debates (since 1993) and the various factors that influence politicians’ behavior in those debates. Since TV debates among politicians usually involve the participants trying to prove their point, they are set up as verbal duels and, therefore, foster either negative use of irony against the opponent or positive use to enhance the speaker’s own positive face. The choice of whether to use irony or not can thus become part of a larger strategy of how the politician and maybe even his whole party want to present themselves in the media. The reaction to ironic remarks, especially those that attack the positive face, can also play an important part, since it can help save the victim’s face or hurt it further.


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