Chapter 2. Conversational irony: Evaluating complaints

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This chapter is concerned with ironic assessments in spontaneous Cypriot-Greek conversations. The phenomenon is studied here by a close examination of ironic assessments in the specific context of naturally occurring complaint sequences where the speaker is complaining about a non-present party’s misbehaviour or reported words. The main focus is on the sequential and interactional role of the placement of ironic utterances in a structural place of the organisation of storytelling that is upon the culmination of a complaint, where usually an evaluation is expected from the recipient. Ironic evaluations are investigated by exploring the whole construction of the complaint and the relationships established among the participants up to the slot which is filled with the ironic element. This is why I draw from selected conversational fragments to show that in the data there is a pattern which is revealed by combining irony with an expression of evaluation. This type of evaluation is very effective in producing a stronger claim than the one reported and proffered with the punchline. This moves the topic to closure. Examples of ironic evaluations are effectively expressed through non-literal means, such as extreme case formulations, impossible descriptions, self-contradictory assessments, and rhetorical questions.


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