Political irony

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The present discussion starts with the premise that irony positions the ironist as adversarial vis-à-vis the target of irony, and expands on the notion of ironic positioning. Drawing on a close examination of politicians’ follow-ups to direct and ironic challenges, it will be argued that the manipulation of degree of indirectness affects the politicians’ reciprocal positioning; that irony may position the addressee as accomplice of the ironist; and that due to the inherently indirect nature of ironic criticism, the addressee may legitimately ignore it, and thus negotiate second-order positioning. In this respect ironic challenges and their follow-ups differ from direct adversarial responses to direct challenges. Through the latter, the speaker accepts the adversarial first-order positioning initiated by his or her interlocutor.


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