There is a current debate on the nature of verbal irony. On one view, held by Sperber and Wilson (1981, 1986; Wilson and Sperber, 1992), verbal irony is a subtype of echoic use of language. On another view, advocated by Giora (1995, Giora and Fein, 1998), verbal irony is a form of indirect negation. This paper compares both approaches and looks at their predictions with regard to the cognitive abilities that the processing of verbal irony should demand. In particular, it concentrates on the degree of higher-order mental representations that interpreters of verbal irony should be able to manipulate. The results of the analysis favour the framework proposed by Sperber and Wilson.
Verbal irony , Meta-representation , Indirect negation , Echoic use , theory of mind