Interpreting Verbal Irony: Linguistic Strategies and the Connection to the Type of Semantic Incongruity

3 Nov 2019  ·  Debanjan Ghosh, Elena Musi, Kartikeya Upasani, Smaranda Muresan ·

Human communication often involves the use of verbal irony or sarcasm, where the speakers usually mean the opposite of what they say. To better understand how verbal irony is expressed by the speaker and interpreted by the hearer we conduct a crowdsourcing task: given an utterance expressing verbal irony, users are asked to verbalize their interpretation of the speaker's ironic message. We propose a typology of linguistic strategies for verbal irony interpretation and link it to various theoretical linguistic frameworks. We design computational models to capture these strategies and present empirical studies aimed to answer three questions: (1) what is the distribution of linguistic strategies used by hearers to interpret ironic messages?; (2) do hearers adopt similar strategies for interpreting the speaker's ironic intent?; and (3) does the type of semantic incongruity in the ironic message (explicit vs. implicit) influence the choice of interpretation strategies by the hearers?

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