Irony via “surrealism”
The aim of this paper is to support the general hypothesis that irony is a non-unified phenomenon comprising different devices with different semantic/pragmatic/cognitive characteristics. The arguments presented here stand on the boundary between semantics, cognitivism and pragmatics, focusing on the processes of production and retrieval of the ironic message. The main focus is a particular strategy in which the speaker employs a strikingly unrealistic, unexpected, and inappropriate (and thus “surrealistic”) question or assertion in order to create the ironic effect. This type of strategy is illustrated in example (1). (1) Are you going to school tomorrow? No, I am riding my unicorn to Alaska! The ironic device discussed is compared to other common ironic strategies which are distinguished with the help of five criteria: the <i>meaning derivation</i> process, <i>context dependence</i> (the amount of contextual information needed for the recognition of the ironic character of the utterance), <i>cancellability</i> (the possibility of cancelling the ironic character of the utterance), and, at the level of discourse, the <i>effectiveness</i> of interpretation and <i>humorous</i> effect.