Volume 25, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


This research seeks to identify and analyze the reaction to irony in Israeli political news interviews, in view of the specific nature of this genre, which has been known to allow a certain level of adversarialness (Liebes et al. 2008; Blum-Kulka 1983; Weizman 2008; Clayman &Heritage 2002a and 2002b). Our intention was to examine whether the audience regards the use of irony as over-aggressive, and whether they believe interviewees regard it as such, in order to shed light on the potential consequences the use of indirect discourse patterns has for the interviewer. Based on Goffman’s (1981) notion of footing, and on the concept of positioning as defined by Weizman (2008: 16), we focused on the audience’s capacity to grasp the positioning and repositioning in the interaction as a possible influential factor in their reaction to the employment of irony. The research is based on two conceptual paradigms: Media studies and pragmatic studies of irony. The findings indicate that Israeli audiences tend to regard interviewers’ employment of irony in political interviews as slightly hostile, and as such it is viewed as a possible threat to interviewees’ face (Goffman 1967), but also as a legitimate and comprehensible tool, especially when the irony is accompanied by humor or mitigating non-verbal signs. Hence, the risk for the interviewer is not as great as we assumed. Accordingly, viewers also tended to judge interviewees’ conception of the employment of irony as only slightly adversarial, perhaps because they have assumed the interviewees’ attitude towards the interaction, identified with them and chosen their side.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alexander, J. Richard
    (1997) Aspects of Verbal Humour in English. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag Tübingen.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Attardo, Salvatore
    (1994) Linguistic Theories of Humor. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. (1997) The semantic foundation of cognitive theories of humor. Humor10: 395-420. doi: 10.1515/humr.1997.10.4.395
    https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.1997.10.4.395 [Google Scholar]
  4. (2000) Irony as relevant inappropriateness. Journal of Pragmatics32: 793-826. doi: 10.1016/S0378‑2166(99)00070‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(99)00070-3 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bavelas, J.B. , A. Black , N. Chovil , and J. Mullet
    (1990) Equivocal Communication. Newbury Park: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Blum-Kulka, Shoshana
    (1983) The dynamics of political interviews. Text3.2: 131-153.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. (1997) Discourse pragmatics. In T.A. van Dijk (ed.), Discourse as Social Interaction. London: Sage, pp. 38-64.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. (2005) Modes of meaning in making in young children's conversational storytelling. In J. Thornborrow , and J. Coates (eds.), The sociolinguistics of narrative. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 149-170. doi: 10.1075/sin.6.08blu
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sin.6.08blu [Google Scholar]
  9. Blum-Kulka, S. , G. Kasper , and J. House
    (eds.) (1989) Cross-Cultural Pragmatics Requests and Apologies. Norwood: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Blum-Kulka, S. , and D. Huck-Taglicht
    (2002) The contribution of peer-interaction to the development of literate discourse: Genres and keying. Script – Literacy: Research, Theory and Practice3-4: 75-111 (Hebrew).
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Blum-Kulka, S. , M. Blondheim , and G. Hacohen
    (2002) Traditions of dispute: From negotiations of Talmudic texts to the arena of political discourse in the media. Journal of Pragmatics34.10-11: 1569-1594. doi: 10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)00076‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00076-0 [Google Scholar]
  12. Blum-Kulka, S. , Z. Kampf , and T. Liebes
    (2003) Talking to the Enemy?: Interviews with Palestinians during the Second Intifada. In Y. Shlesinger , and M. Muchnik (eds), Lamed Le ILASH (Studies in Modern Hebrew). Jerusalem: Tzivonim Publishing, (Hebrew).
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Blum-Kulka, S. , and E. Weizman
    (2003) Misunderstanding in political interviews. In J. House , G. Kasper , and S. Ross (eds.), Misunderstanding in Social Life: Discourse Approaches to Problematic Talk. London: Pearson, pp. 107-128.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Blum-Kulka, S. , and M. Hamo
    (2004) The importance of doing keying: Broadcast talk from a Goffman-inspired perspective. Ross Priory Broadcast Talk Seminar.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Brown, P. , and S.C. Levinson
    (1987) Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Bull, Peter
    (2000) Equivocation and the rhetoric of modernization: An analysis of televised interviews with Tony Blair in 1997. British Journal of Social Psychology35: 267-284. doi: 10.1177/0261927X00019002003
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X00019002003 [Google Scholar]
  17. Bull, P. , J. Elliott , D. Palmer , and L. Walker
    (1996) Why politicians are three-faced: The Face Model of political interviews. British Journal of Social Psychology35.2: 267-284. doi: 10.1111/j.2044‑8309.1996.tb01097.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8309.1996.tb01097.x [Google Scholar]
  18. Burton, Deirdre
    (1980) Dialogue and Discourse. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Clark, H.H. , and R.J. Gerrig
    (1984) On the pretense theory of irony. Journal of Experimental Psychology/ General113.1: 121-126. doi: 10.1037/0096‑3445.113.1.121
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.113.1.121 [Google Scholar]
  20. Clayman, S.E. , and J. Heritage
    (2002a) The News interview: Journalists and public figures on the air. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511613623
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511613623 [Google Scholar]
  21. (2002b) Questioning presidents: Journalistic deference and adversarialness in press conferences of Eisenhower and Regan. Journal of Communication52.4: 749-775. doi: 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2002.tb02572.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2002.tb02572.x [Google Scholar]
  22. Clift, Rebecca
    (1999) Irony in conversation. Language in Society28: 523–553. doi: 10.1017/S0047404599004029
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404599004029 [Google Scholar]
  23. Colston, L. Herbert
    (1997) Salting a wound or sugaring a pill: The pragmatic functions of ironic criticism. Discourse Processes23: 25-45. doi: 10.1080/01638539709544980
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539709544980 [Google Scholar]
  24. (2000a) On necessary conditions for verbal irony comprehension. Pragmatics8.2: 277-324. doi: 10.1075/pc.8.2.02col
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.8.2.02col [Google Scholar]
  25. (2000b) Dewey defeats Truman: Interpreting ironic restatements. Journal of Language and Social Psychology19.1: 46-65. doi: 10.1177/0261927X00019001003
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X00019001003 [Google Scholar]
  26. Dascal, M. , and E. Weizman
    (1987) Contextual exploitation of interpretation, clues in text understanding: An integrated model. In J. Verschueren , and M. Bertuccelli-Papi (eds.), The Pragmatic Perspective. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 31-46. doi: 10.1075/pbcs.5.08das
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pbcs.5.08das [Google Scholar]
  27. Dews, S. , J. Kaplan , and E. Winner
    (1995) Why not say it directly? The social functions of irony. Discourse Processes19: 347-367. doi: 10.1080/01638539509544922
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539509544922 [Google Scholar]
  28. Ettema, J.S. , and T.L. Glasser
    (1994) The Irony in - and of – journalism: A case study in the moral language of liberal democracy. Journal of Communication44.2: 5-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.1994.tb00674.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1994.tb00674.x [Google Scholar]
  29. Fetzer, A. , and E. Weizman
    (2006) Issues in the study of political discourse: An introduction. Journal of Pragmatics38: 143-153. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2005.06.018
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2005.06.018 [Google Scholar]
  30. Garmendia, Joana
    (2010) Irony is critical. Pragmatics & Cognition18.2: 397-421. doi: 10.1075/pc.18.2.07gar
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.18.2.07gar [Google Scholar]
  31. Gibbs, W. Raymond Jr.
    (1984) Literal meaning and psychological theory. Cognitive Science8: 275-304. doi: 10.1207/s15516709cog0803_4
    https://doi.org/10.1207/s15516709cog0803_4 [Google Scholar]
  32. (1986) On the psycholinguistics of sarcasm. Journal of Experimental Psychology/ General115.1: 3-15. doi: 10.1037/0096‑3445.115.1.3
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.115.1.3 [Google Scholar]
  33. Giora, Rachel
    (1995) On irony and negation. Discourse Processes19: 239-264. doi: 10.1080/01638539509544916
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539509544916 [Google Scholar]
  34. Glasser, T.L. , and J.S. Ettema
    (1993) When the facts don't speak for themselves: A study of the use of irony in daily journalism. Critical Studies in Mass Communication10: 322-338. doi: 10.1080/15295039309366874
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15295039309366874 [Google Scholar]
  35. Goffman, Erving
    (1967) Interaction Ritual: Essays on Face-to-Face Behavior. New York: Anchor Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. (1974) Frame Analysis. New York: Harper and Row.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. (1981) Forms of Talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Grice, H. Paul
    (1975) Logic and conversation. In P. Cole , and J. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and Semantics, vol 3: Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press, pp. 41-58.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. (1978) Further notes on logic and conversation. In P. Cole (ed.), Pragmatics 9. New York: Academic Press, pp. 113-127.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Hamo, M. , Z. Kampf , and L. Shifman
    (2010) Surviving the "Mock Interview": Challenges to political communicative competence in contemporary televised discourse. Media, Culture and Society32.2: 247-266. doi: 10.1177/0163443709355609
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443709355609 [Google Scholar]
  41. Haverkate, Henk
    (1990) A speech act analysis of irony. Journal of Pragmatics14: 77-109. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(90)90065‑L
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(90)90065-L [Google Scholar]
  42. Hirsch, Galia
    (4100a) Redundancy, irony and humor. Language Sciences33: 316-329. doi: 10.1016/j.langsci.2010.11.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2010.11.002 [Google Scholar]
  43. (2011b) Between irony and humor: A pragmatic model. Pragmatics and Cognition19.3: 530-561. doi: 10.1075/pc.19.3.07hir
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.19.3.07hir [Google Scholar]
  44. (2011c) Explicitations and other types of shifts in the translation of irony and humor. Target23.2: 178-205. doi: 10.1075/target.23.2.03hir
    https://doi.org/10.1075/target.23.2.03hir [Google Scholar]
  45. Hirsch, G. , and S. Blum-Kulka
    (4102) Identifying irony in news interviews. Journal of Pragmatics70: 31-51. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2014.06.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2014.06.002 [Google Scholar]
  46. Hymes, Dell
    (1989/1972) Models of the interaction of language and social life. In J. Gumperz , and D. Hymes (eds.), Directions in Sociolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, pp. 35-72.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Jeffers, Jennifer
    (1995) Beyond Irony: The Unnamable’s appropriation of its critics in a humorous reading of the text. The Journal of Narrative Technique25.1: 47-66.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Jorgensen, Julia
    (1996) The functions of sarcastic irony in speech. Journal of Pragmatics26: 613-634. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(95)00067‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(95)00067-4 [Google Scholar]
  49. Jucker, H Andreas
    (1986) News Interviews: A Pragmalinguistic Analysis. Amsterdam: Gieben. doi: 10.1075/pb.vii.4
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pb.vii.4 [Google Scholar]
  50. Kampf, Z. , and E. Daskal
    (2011) When the watchdog bites: Insulting politicians on air. In M. Ekström , and M. Patrona (eds.), Talking Politics in the Broadcast Media: Cross-cultural perspectives on political interviewing, journalism and accountability (Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp.177 – 198. doi: 10.1075/dapsac.42.14kam
    https://doi.org/10.1075/dapsac.42.14kam [Google Scholar]
  51. (2013) Too hostile, too deferential: Processes of media answerability in the wake of political interviews. Journalism: Theory, Practice and Criticism. 14.4: 522-540. doi: 10.1177/1464884912448902
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884912448902 [Google Scholar]
  52. Kotthoff, Helga
    (2003) Responding to irony in different contexts: On cognition in conversation. Journal of Pragmatics35: 1387-1411. doi: 10.1016/S0378‑2166(02)00182‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00182-0 [Google Scholar]
  53. Kumon-Nakamura, S. , S. Glucksberg , and M. Brown
    (1995) How about another piece of pie: The allusional pretense theory of discourse irony. Journal of Experimental Psychology/ General124.1: 3-21. doi: 10.1037/0096‑3445.124.1.3
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.124.1.3 [Google Scholar]
  54. Kroon, L.A. , and G. Eriksson
    (2010) Interviews as communicative resources in news and current affairs broadcasts. Journalism Studies11.1: 20-35. doi: 10.1080/14616700903119826
    https://doi.org/10.1080/14616700903119826 [Google Scholar]
  55. Labov, W. , and D. Fanshel, D
    (1977) Therapeutic Discourse: Psychotherapy as Conversation. New York: Academic Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Leech, Geoffrey
    (1983) Principles of pragmatics. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Liebes, T. , Z. Kampf , and S. Blum-Kulka
    (2008) Saddam on CBS and Arafat on IBA: Addressing the enemy on television. Political Communication25.3: 311-329. doi: 10.1080/10584600802197590
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600802197590 [Google Scholar]
  58. Montgomery, Martin
    (2007) The Discourse of Broadcast News: A Linguistic Approach. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Norrick, R. Neil
    (1994) Involvement and joking in conversation. Journal of Pragmatics22: 409-430. doi: 10.1016/0378‑2166(94)90117‑1
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-2166(94)90117-1 [Google Scholar]
  60. Oring, Elliot
    (1989) Between jokes and tales: On the nature of punch lines. Humor2.4: 349-364. doi: 10.1515/humr.1989.2.4.349
    https://doi.org/10.1515/humr.1989.2.4.349 [Google Scholar]
  61. Raskin, Victor
    (1985) Semantic Mechanisms of Humor. Dordrecht: Reidel.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Raskin, V. , and S. Attardo
    (1994) Non-literalness and non-bona-fide in language: An approach to formal and computational treatments of humor. Pragmatics & Cognition2.1: 31-69. doi: 10.1075/pc.2.1.02ras
    https://doi.org/10.1075/pc.2.1.02ras [Google Scholar]
  63. Reich, Zvi
    (2011) User comments: The translation of participatory space. Participatory Journalism: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. doi: 10.1002/9781444340747
    https://doi.org/10.1002/9781444340747 [Google Scholar]
  64. Scannell, Patrick
    (1991) Introduction: The relevance of talk. Broadcast talk. London: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  65. Sperber, D. , and D. Wilson
    (1981) Irony and the Use-Mention distinction. In P. Cole (ed.), Radical Pragmatics. New York: Academic Press, pp. 295-318.
    [Google Scholar]
  66. (1992) On verbal irony. Lingua87: 53-76. doi: 10.1016/0024‑3841(92)90025‑E
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0024-3841(92)90025-E [Google Scholar]
  67. Vaisman, C.L. , and I. Gonen
    (2011) Hebrew Online. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing (Hebrew).
    [Google Scholar]
  68. Weizman, E. , and M. Dascal
    (1991) On clues and cues: Strategies of text understanding. Journal of Literary SemanticsXX/1: 18-30. doi: 10.1515/jlse.1991.20.1.18
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jlse.1991.20.1.18 [Google Scholar]
  69. Weizman, Elda
    (2001) Addresser, addressee and target. In E. Weingand , and M. Dascal (eds.), Negotiation and Power in Dialogic Interaction. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, pp. 125-137. doi: 10.1075/cilt.214.11wei
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.214.11wei [Google Scholar]
  70. (2003) News interviews on Israeli television: Normative expectations and discourse norms. In S. Stati , and M. Bondi (eds.), Dialogue Analysis 2000. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, pp. 384-94 doi: 10.1515/9783110933253.383
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110933253.383 [Google Scholar]
  71. Weizman, E
    ., and M. Dascal (2005) Interpreting speaker's meanings in literary dialogue. In A. Bethen , and M. Dannerer (eds.), Dialogue Analysis IX: Dialogue in Literature and the Media. Part 1: Literature. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, pp. 61-72 doi: 10.1515/9783110946062.61
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110946062.61 [Google Scholar]
  72. Weizman, Elda
    (2006) Roles and identities in news interviews: The Israeli context. Pragmatic aspects of political discourse in the media, Journal of Pragmatics38: 154-179. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2005.06.018
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2005.06.018 [Google Scholar]
  73. (2008) Positioning in Media Dialogue. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. doi: 10.1075/ds.3
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ds.3 [Google Scholar]
  74. (2013) News interviews. Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics (EHLL)2: 825-828.
    [Google Scholar]
  75. Wilson, Deirdre
    (2006) The pragmatics of verbal irony: Echo or pretence?Lingua116: 1722-1743. doi: 10.1016/j.lingua.2006.05.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2006.05.001 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Hostility; Irony; Media; Political news interviews
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