The interpretation of ironic texts in this article is based on informants' responses to authentic texts. This approach is illustrated with a set of responses to a (potentially ironic) letter to the editor published in a major Finnish newspaper. Ironic interpretation is seen as being crucially dependent on coherence. Texts that are perceived as incoherent can result in an ironic interpretation, if the incoherence is also perceived as being intentional, and intentionality in turn is a sign of the edge of the ironist. On the basis of the analysis of informants' responses, ironic interpretation is defined as a combination of five factors: (1) an ironic edge that (2) reflects the intention of the ironist, and (3) has a target and (4) a victim, too. Essential to irony is factor (5): one or more of factors 1–4 must be inferred from co(n)text. This definition of irony is crucial in distinguishing irony from non-irony, and it helps to discern the differences as well as the similarities between irony and related phenomena.
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