Gestural codas pave the way to the understanding of verbal irony

Author: González-Fuente, S.; Escandell-Vidal, V.; Prieto, P.

Description: It is well known that speakers rely on prosodic and gestural features at the time of producing and understanding verbal irony. Yet little research has examined (a) how gestures manifest themselves in spontaneous speech, both during and after ironic utterances; and (b) how the presence of the so-called ‘gestural codas’ (audiovisual cues produced after the ironic utterance) influences irony detection. In Experiment 1, spontaneously produced verbal irony utterances generated between pairs of friends in conversational dyads were analyzed for semantic, prosodic and visual contrasts. Results show that ironic utterances contrast with immediately preceding non-ironic utterances, both in terms of prosody and gesture. Experiment 2 tested the contribution of the presence vs. absence of such ‘gestural codas’ to the perception of verbal irony. An irony rating task was conducted in which participants were audiovisually presented with a set of ambiguous discourse contexts followed by a set of matching ironic and non-ironic utterances presented in two conditions, namely without coda and with coda. Results show that subjects detected the speaker’s ironic intent significantly better when post-utterance codas were present (88%) than when they were not (56%), thus confirming the hypothesis that visual information produced after ironic sentences is a key factor in the identification of the speaker’s ironic intent.

Subject Headings: Audiovisual prosody; Verbal irony perception; Gestures; Intonation; Catalan

Keywords: Gestural codas pave the way to the understanding of verbal irony

Publication year: 2015

Journal or book title: Journal of Pragmatics

Volume: 90


Pages: 26-47

Find the full text :

Find more like this one (cited by):,16&hl=en

Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 2726