Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper examines the factors that influence the outcome of exchanges containing refusals, focusing specifically on the role of irony. For this purpose, we analyse spontaneous conversations in English (SPICE-Ireland Corpus and Spoken BNC) within a discursive framework (Eelen 2001Mills 2003Watts 2003) that considers the negotiation of opposing views as well as relationships between interlocutors. We propose a model that relies on the crucial distinction we draw between the ‘positional’ and the ‘interpersonal’ level, pointing at mismatches between the two when it comes to the presence of conflict. We determine the presence and (non-)resolution of interpersonal conflict based on evidence of relational work (Locher and Watts 2008) and show that although there is no fixed trajectory from irony type (Kapogianni 20112018) to interpersonal effect, some ironies are more interpersonally risky than others.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Aijmer, Karin
    1996Conversational Routines in English: Convention and Creativity. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Angouri, Jo
    2012 “Managing Disagreement in Problem Solving Meeting Talk.” Journal of Pragmatics44(12): 1565–1579. 10.1016/j.pragma.2012.06.010
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2012.06.010 [Google Scholar]
  3. Arndt, Horst , and Richard W. Janney
    1985 “Politeness Revisited: Cross-Modal Supportive Strategies.” International Review of Applied Linguistics23:281–300.   10.1515/iral.1985.23.1‑4.281
    https://doi.org/10.1515/iral.1985.23.1-4.281 [Google Scholar]
  4. 1991 “Verbal, Prosodic, and Kinesic Emotive Contrasts in Speech.” Journal of Pragmatics15:521–549.   10.1016/0378‑2166(91)90110‑J
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(91)90110-J [Google Scholar]
  5. Barki, Henri , and Jon Hartwick
    2004 “Conceptualizing the Construct of Interpersonal Conflict.” International Journal of Conflict Management15(3):216–244.   10.1108/eb022913
    https://doi.org/10.1108/eb022913 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bateson, Gregory
    1953 “The Position of Humor in Human Communication.” InCybernetics: Transactions of the Ninth Conference, edited by H. Von Foerster , 1–47. New York: Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Beebe, Leslie , Tomoko Takahashi , and Robin Uliss-Weltz
    1990 “Pragmatic Transfer in ESL Refusals.” InDeveloping Communicative Competence in a Second Language, edited by Robin C. Scarcella , Elaine Slosberg Andersen and Stephen Krashen , 55–73. New York: Harper & Row.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Bella, Spyridoula
    2014 “Developing the Ability to Refuse: A Cross-Sectional Study of Greek FL Refusals.” Journal of Pragmatics61:35–62.   10.1016/j.pragma.2013.11.015
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.11.015 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bonaiuto, Marino , Elio Castellano , and Antonio Pierro
    2003 “Arguing and Laughing: The Use of Humour to Negotiate in Group Discussions.” Humor16(2):183–223.   10.1515/humr.2003.010
    https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.2003.010 [Google Scholar]
  10. Bosco, Francesca M. , and Monica Bucciarelli
    2008 “Simple and Complex Deceits and Ironies.” Journal of Pragmatics40:583–607.   10.1016/j.pragma.2007.05.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2007.05.004 [Google Scholar]
  11. Bousfield, Derek
    2007 “Beginnings, Middles and Ends: A Biopsy of the Dynamics of Impolite Exchanges.” Journal of Pragmatics39(12):2185–2216.   10.1016/j.pragma.2006.11.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2006.11.005 [Google Scholar]
  12. 2008Impoliteness in Interaction. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.167
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.167 [Google Scholar]
  13. Chen, Xing , Ye, Lei , and Zhang, Yanyin
    1995 “Chinese Refusal Behavior.” InPragmatics of Chinese As Native and Target Language, edited by Gabriele Kasper , 119–164. Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center, University of Hawaii.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Coleman, John , Ladan Baghai-Ravary , John Pybus , and Sergio Grau
    2012 Audio BNC. The Audio Edition of the Spoken British National Corpus, edited byUniversity of Oxford Phonetics Laboratory.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Colston, Herbert
    2002 “Contrast and Assimilation in Verbal Irony.” Journal of Pragmatics34:111–142.   10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)80008‑X
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)80008-X [Google Scholar]
  16. Culpeper, Jonathan
    1996 “Towards an Anatomy of Impoliteness.” Journal of Pragmatics25:349–367.   10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00014‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00014-3 [Google Scholar]
  17. 2011Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511975752
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511975752 [Google Scholar]
  18. Deutsch, Morton
    1969 “Conflicts: Productive and Destructive.” Journal of Social Issues15(1):7–41.   10.1111/j.1540‑4560.1969.tb02576.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1969.tb02576.x [Google Scholar]
  19. Dynel, Marta
    2011 “Joker in the Pack: Towards Determining the Status of Humorous Framing in Conversations.” InThe Pragmatics of Humour across Discourse Domains, edited by Marta Dynel , 217–241. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.210.15dyn
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.210.15dyn [Google Scholar]
  20. 2013 “When Does Irony Tickle the Hearer? Towards Capturing the Characteristics of Humorous Irony.” InDevelopments in Linguistic Humour Theory, edited by Marta Dynel , 298–320. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/thr.1.14dyn
    https://doi.org/10.1075/thr.1.14dyn [Google Scholar]
  21. 2018Irony, Deception and Humour: Seeking the Truth about Overt and Covert Untruthfulness. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9781501507922
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781501507922 [Google Scholar]
  22. Economidou-Kogetsidis, Maria , and Helen Woodfield
    (eds.) 2012Interlanguage Request Modification. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.217
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.217 [Google Scholar]
  23. Félix-Brasdefer, J. César
    2004 “Interlanguage Refusals: Linguistic Politeness and Length of Residence in the Target Community.” Language Learning54(4):587–653.   10.1111/j.1467‑9922.2004.00281.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9922.2004.00281.x [Google Scholar]
  24. Garmendia, Joana
    2015 “A (Neo)Gricean Account of Irony: An Answer to Relevance Theory.” International Review of Pragmatics7:40–79.   10.1163/18773109‑00701003
    https://doi.org/10.1163/18773109-00701003 [Google Scholar]
  25. Gino, Eelen
    2001A Critique of Politeness Theories. Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Goffman, Erving
    1967Interaction Ritual: Essays of Face-to-Face Behavior. New York: Doubleday.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Haugh, Michael
    2010 “Jocular Mockery, (Dis)affiliation, and Face.” Journal of Pragmatics42:2106–2119.   10.1016/j.pragma.2009.12.018
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2009.12.018 [Google Scholar]
  28. Haugh, Michael , Dániel Z. Kádár , and Sara Mills
    2013 “Interpersonal Pragmatics: Issues and Debates.” Journal of Pragmatics58:1–11.   10.1016/j.pragma.2013.09.009
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.09.009 [Google Scholar]
  29. Hayashi, Takuo
    1996 “Politeness in Conflict Management: A Conversation Analysis of Dispreferred Message from a Cognitive Perspective.” Journal of Pragmatics25:227–255.   10.1016/0378‑2166(94)00080‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)00080-8 [Google Scholar]
  30. Holmes, Janet , and Maria Stubbe
    2003 “Doing Disagreement at Work.” Australian Journal of Communication30(1):53–77.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Kalbermatten, María Isabel
    2018 “The Role of Verbal Irony in Conflict Talk among Relatives and Friends in an Argentinian Community.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict6(2):299–319.   10.1075/jlac.00014.kal
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.00014.kal [Google Scholar]
  32. Kapogianni, Eleni
    2011 “Irony via ‘Surrealism’.” InThe Pragmatics of Humour across Discourse Domains, edited by Marta Dynel , 51–68. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.210.05kap
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.210.05kap [Google Scholar]
  33. 2014 “Differences in Use and Function of Verbal Irony between Real and Fictional Discourse: (Mis)interpretation and Irony Blindness.” Humor27:597–618.   10.1515/humor‑2014‑0093
    https://doi.org/10.1515/humor-2014-0093 [Google Scholar]
  34. 2018 “Ironic Implicature Strength and the Test of Explicit Cancellability.” Intercultural Pragmatics15:1–27.   10.1515/ip‑2017‑0028
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2017-0028 [Google Scholar]
  35. . In press. “Types and Definitions of Irony.” InThe Cambridge Handbook of the Philosophy of Language edited by Piotr Stalmaszczyk . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/9781108698283.035
    https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108698283.035 [Google Scholar]
  36. Kendrick, Kobin , and Fransisco Torreira
    2015 “The Timing and Construction of Preference: A Quantitative Study.” Discourse Processes52(4):255–289.   10.1080/0163853X.2014.955997
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2014.955997 [Google Scholar]
  37. Kienpointner, Manfred
    1997 “Varieties of Rudeness: Types and Functions of Impolite Utterances.” Functions of Language4(2):251–287. 10.1075/fol.4.2.05kie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/fol.4.2.05kie [Google Scholar]
  38. Kirk, John M. , Jeffrey L. Kallen , Orla Lowry , Anne Rooney , and Margaret Mannion
    2011The SPICE-Ireland Corpus. Systems of Pragmatic Annotation for the Spoken Component of ICE-Ireland. Version 1.2.2. CD-ROM. Belfast: Queen’s University Belfast and Dublin: Trinity College Dublin.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Kotthoff, Helga
    1993 “Disagreement and Concession in Disputes: On the Context Sensitivity of Preference Structures.” Language in Society22(2):193–216. 10.1017/S0047404500017103
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500017103 [Google Scholar]
  40. 1999 “Coherent Keying in Conversational Humour: Contextualizing Joint Fictionalisation.” InCoherence in Spoken and Written Discourse, edited by Wolfram Bublitz , Uta Lenk and Eija Ventola , 125–150. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.63.10kot
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.63.10kot [Google Scholar]
  41. Kwon, Jihyun
    2004 “Expressing Refusals in Korean and in American English.” Multilingua23(4):339–364.   10.1515/mult.2004.23.4.339
    https://doi.org/10.1515/mult.2004.23.4.339 [Google Scholar]
  42. Langlotz, Andreas , and Miriam A. Locher
    2013 “The Role of Emotions in Relational Work.” Journal of Pragmatics58:87–107.   10.1016/j.pragma.2013.05.014
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2013.05.014 [Google Scholar]
  43. Leech, Geoffrey
    1983Principles of Pragmatics. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Locher, Miriam A. , and Sage L. Graham
    2010 “Introduction to Interpersonal Pragmatics.” InInterpersonal Pragmatics, edited by Miriam A. Locher and Sage L. Graham , 1–13. Berlin: De Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110214338.1.225
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110214338.1.225 [Google Scholar]
  45. Locher, Miriam A. , and Richard J. Watts
    2008 “Relational Work and Impoliteness: Negotiating Norms of Linguistic Behaviour.” InImpoliteness in Language, edited by Derek Bousfield and Miriam A. Locher , 77–99. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Martínez-Flor, Alicia
    2012 “Examining EFL Learners’ Long-Term Instructional Effects When Mitigating Requests.” InInterlanguage Request Modification, edited by Maria Economidou-Kogetsidis and Helen Woodfield , 243–274. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.217.08mar
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.217.08mar [Google Scholar]
  47. Millar, Frank E. , L. Edna Rogers , and Janet Beavin Bavelas
    1984 “Identifying Patterns of Verbal Conflict in Interpersonal Dynamics.” Western Journal of Speech Communication48(3):231–246.   10.1080/10570318409374159
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10570318409374159 [Google Scholar]
  48. Mills, Sara
    2003Gender and Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511615238
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615238 [Google Scholar]
  49. Norrick, Neal
    1993Conversational Joking: Humor in Everyday Talk. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Norrick, Neal , and Alice Spitz
    2008 “Humor as a Resource for Mitigating Conflict in Interaction.” Journal of Pragmatics40(10):1661–1686.   10.1016/j.pragma.2007.12.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2007.12.001 [Google Scholar]
  51. Norrick, Neal , and Claudia Bubel
    2009 “Direct Address as a Resource for Humor.” InHumor in Interaction, edited by Neil Norrick and Delia Chiaro , 29–48. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 10.1075/pbns.182.02nor
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbns.182.02nor [Google Scholar]
  52. Ochs, Elinor , and Bambi Schieffelin
    1989 “Language Has a Heart.” Text9(1):7–25. 10.1515/text.1.1989.9.1.7
    https://doi.org/10.1515/text.1.1989.9.1.7 [Google Scholar]
  53. Planalp, Sally
    1998 “Current Issues Arising at the Confluence of Communication and Emotion.” Australian Journal of Communication25(3): 65–79.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Pomerantz, Anita
    1984 “Agreeing and Disagreeing with Assessments: Some Features of Preferred/Dispreferred Turn Shapes.” InStructures of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis, edited by Maxwell J. Atkinson , John Heritage , and Keith Oatley , 57–101. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Reichl, Isabella
    2018 “Refusals and Relational Work: Interactional Negotiation and Sequential Realisation.” Paper presented at the11th International Conference on Im/Politeness, Valencia, 4–6 July 2018.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Sacks, Harvey
    1967 “The Search for Help. No One To Turn To.” InEssays in Self Destruction, edited by Edwin S. Schneidman , 203–223. New York, NY: Science House.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. 1992Lectures on Conversation. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Salazar Campillo, Patricia
    2007 “Examining Mitigation in Requests: A Focus on Transcripts in ELT Coursebooks.” InIntercultural Language Use and Language Learning, edited by Eva Alcón-Soler and Maria Pilar Safont Jordá , 207–222. Universitat Jaume 1: Springer. 10.1007/978‑1‑4020‑5639‑0_11
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-5639-0_11 [Google Scholar]
  59. Schegloff, Emanuel A.
    1968 “Sequencing in Conversational Openings.” American Anthropologist70(6):1075–1095. 10.1525/aa.1968.70.6.02a00030
    https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1968.70.6.02a00030 [Google Scholar]
  60. Schegloff, Emanuel A. , and Harvey Sacks
    1973 “Opening up Closings.” Semiotica8(4):289–327. 10.1515/semi.1973.8.4.289
    https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.1973.8.4.289 [Google Scholar]
  61. Searle, John R.
    1969Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139173438
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173438 [Google Scholar]
  62. Searle, John R. , and Daniel Vanderveken
    1985Foundations of Illocutionary Logic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Spencer-Oatey, Helen
    2007 “Theories of Identity and the Analysis of Face.” Journal of Pragmatics39(4): 639–656. 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.12.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2006.12.004 [Google Scholar]
  64. Sillars, Alan L. , Stephen F. Coletti , Doug Parry , and Mark A. Rogers
    1982 “Coding Verbal Conflict Tactics: Nonverbal and Perceptual Correlates of the ‘Avoidance-Distributive-Integrative’ Distinction.” Human Communication Research9(1):83–95.   10.1111/j.1468‑2958.1982.tb00685.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2958.1982.tb00685.x [Google Scholar]
  65. Sperber, Dan , and Deirdre Wilson
    1981 “Irony and the Use-Mention Distinction.” InRadical Pragmatics, edited by Peter Cole , 295–318. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. Watts, Richard J.
    2003Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511615184
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615184 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): interpersonal conflict; irony; multi-turn approach; refusals
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error