An interactional approach to irony development

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This article discusses conversational data from a project on how pupils use irony and related forms of communication. It employs a Bakhtinian and frame analytic approach combined with a pragmatics of presumptive meaning to understand what sorts of irony nine-year-olds use. Some types of irony correspond to teasing, others more to critical comments or joint fantasy production. The children in the study often perform an authoritative, ironic voice directed at the supervising university students, thereby showing their knowledge of typical adult voices and stances, and the students join in the irony by “playing along.” Irony thus helps the students and children to create an in-group that plays with its knowledge of offi cial and unoffi cial stances and unites in sharing unoffi cial perspectives and attitudes.


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