The use of co-textual irony markers in written discourse

Christian Burgers, Margot van Mulken 1  and Peter Jan Schellens 2
  • 1 International Business Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen
  • 2 Speech Communication at Radboud University Nijmegen


Authors of written texts may mark the use of verbal irony in a variety of ways. One possibility for doing so is the use of so-called co-textual markers of irony (i.e., support strategies that open up a non-serious frame). This study aims to classify and categorize these co-textual irony markers. A content analysis of 2,042 co-textual utterances of irony across four text genres (advertisements, newspaper columns, book and film reviews, and letters to the editor) shows that three categories of support strategies could be identified: other ironic utterances, tropes and mood markers. The use of irony support strategies was positively related to the genre of newspaper columns: columns used more ironic utterances and tropes as irony support strategies than the other genres in the corpus.

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HUMOR, the official publication of the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS), was established over 25 years ago as an international interdisciplinary forum for the publication of high-quality research papers on humor as an important and universal human faculty. The journal publishes original contributions in areas such as interdisciplinary humor research, humor theory, and humor research methodologies.