The 4th International Symposium on Tonal Aspects of Languages

Nijmegen, The Netherlands
May 13-16, 2014

Are You Serious? Irony and the Perception of Emphatic Intensification

Rabea Landgraf

Dept. of General Linguistics, ISFAS, Kiel University, Germany

Two perception experiments were conducted in order to study the function and signaling of two postulated subtypes of emphasis for intensity in German. The results of the first, semantic- differential experiment confirm previous findings of acoustic analyses that positive and negative intensification are two distinct subtypes of emphasis for intensity. Moreover, irony occurs when semantically positive target words are combined with negative intensification and vice versa. The second experiment makes use of this fact in an indirect-identification task. Results show that positive and negative intensification are pattern-based and only identified reliably when bundles of cues work together. In addition, irony can in fact be used as a new tool to better pinpoint prosodic meanings in utterances.

Index Terms: emphasis, irony, perception, prosody.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Landgraf, Rabea (2014): "Are you serious? irony and the perception of emphatic intensification", In TAL-2014, 91-94.