I’ve had such a positive response to my previous TED-Ed post that I’m going to use another set of their resources with something I stumbled onto recently. This time on irony.
When most people think of irony typically one thing comes to mind. Alanis Morissette and her 1995 hit Ironic.
But is “ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife”, or “rain on your wedding day” actually ironic? No. Unnecessary or unfortunate perhaps, but definitely not ironic.
A lot of people struggle with identifying or using irony correctly, myself included, but here are some great examples of the three most common types of irony.
The easiest to understand is situational irony. In this case, something is ironic if, and only if, it is the exact opposite of what you would expect.
You’re watching a film and you, as the audience, know something that one of the characters doesn’t. You watch the character do something typically stupid, or, more broadly put, something not in their best interest (think unarmed teenager going to investigate a mysterious noise in the basement without a torch). This technique is dramatic irony.
Verbal irony tends to fill in the somewhat blurry area between sarcasm and compliments. But they can also overlap in some sort of weird grammatical Venn diagram.
Consider saying “that shirt looks nice” to someone. Situation dependent of course, but it could be said as a compliment or more sarcastically as a cruel joke. It is the type of irony most used, both correctly and incorrectly, and is generally applicable when you discover the true meaning behind what someone is saying. I’ll let this final video explain.
I hope that clarifies the notion of irony for you, at least a bit more anyway. I’ll be sending a link to this post over to Alanis tomorrow!