Volume 34, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238
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This study seeks to characterise the form of verbal irony common among Nigerians by identifying its motivation, inherent properties, and communicative value. Data for this study comprised detailed field notes taken within the last five years in contexts in which utterances occurred naturally. These were then tested among informants from diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds at the University of Benin to determine the prevalence and motivation of the ironic utterances. In addition, 500 questionnaires were administered to a group of students and staff in the same institution. These were analysed using frequency tables and simple percentages. Results support the claim that irony in this context is governed by a single cultural principle: “You hurt yourself by admitting a negative situation.” Although the study draws heavily from the relevance-theoretic echoic account, it seeks to reevaluate this account by suggesting that positive attitudes in negative situations are salient cultural notions that underlie the echoic account in this context.


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