On Sarcasm

Sarcasm is an interesting beast. Saying one thing while meaning the exact opposite requires that both the speaker and the listener have not only an understanding of the words and phrases but also an understanding that the speaker means the opposite. Confused yet?

Honestly, it’s a miracle that any of us can communicate at all.

Sarcasm so saturates 21st-century America that according to one study of a database of telephone conversations, 23 percent of the time that the phrase “yeah, right” was used, it was uttered sarcastically. Entire phrases have almost lost their literal meanings because they are so frequently said with a sneer. “Big deal,” for example. When’s the last time someone said that to you and meant it sincerely? “My heart bleeds for you” almost always equals “Tell it to someone who cares,” and “Aren’t you special” means you aren’t.

Great article. No really, I mean that.

From Smithsonian