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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Antiphrasis or Verbal irony – Literary terms

Antiphrasis, Verbal irony, Literary terms

Antiphrasis or Verbal irony – Literary terms

Antiphrasis: Verbal IRONY, in which what is said, contrasts sharply with what is actually meant. See IRONY.

Antiphrasis: (from penguin Dictionary)

 (Gk 'expressed by the opposite') The use of a word in a sense opposite to its proper meaning. Common in irony and litotes (qq.v.).  

From Oxford dictionary: antiphrasis [an-tif-ra-sis], a FIGURE OF SPEECH in which a single word is  used in a sense directly opposite to its usual meaning, as in the naming of  a giant as 'Tiny' or of an enemy as 'friend'; the briefest form of *IRONY.  Adjective: antiphrastic. 

Another name of Antiphrasis is Verbal irony.

Verbal irony: (NTC dictionary) A FIGURE OF SPEECH in which there is a meaningful contrast between what is said and what is actually meant.

From the book, Glossary of literary terms:

Verbal irony (which was traditionally classified as one of the tropes) is a statement in which the meaning that a speaker implies differs sharply from the meaning that is ostensibly expressed. The ironic statement usually involves the explicit expression of one attitude or evaluation, but with indications in the overall speech situation that the speaker intends a very different, and often opposite, attitude or evaluation. Thus in Canto IV of Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1714), after Sir Plume, egged on by the ladies, has stammered out his incoherent request for the return of the stolen lock of hair, the Baron answers:

“It grieves me much,” replied the Peer again,

“Who speaks so well should ever speak in vain.”

This is a straightforward case of an ironic reversal of the surface statement (of which one effect is to give pleasure to the reader) because there are patent clues, established by the preceding narrative, that the Peer is not in the least aggrieved and does not think that poor Sir Plume has spoken at all well. A more complex instance of irony is the famed sentence with which Jane Austen opens Pride and Prejudice (1813): “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”; part of the ironic implication (based on assumptions that Austen assumes the audience shares with her) is that a single woman is in want of a rich husband. Sometimes the use of irony by Pope and other masters are very complicated: the meaning and evaluations may be subtly qualified rather than simply reversed, and the clues to the ironic counter-meanings under the literal statement—or even to the fact that the author intends the statement to be understood ironically—may be oblique and unobtrusive. That is why recourse to irony by an author tends to convey an implicit compliment to the intelligence of readers, who are invited to associate themselves with the author and the knowing minority who are not taken in by the ostensible meaning. That is also why many literary ironists are misinterpreted and sometimes (like Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift in the eighteenth century) get into serious trouble with the obtuse authorities. Following the intricate and shifting maneuvers of great ironists like Plato, Swift, Voltaire, Austen, or Henry James is a test of skill in reading between the lines.

From Penguin dictionary verbal irony is:  

The two basic kinds of irony are verbal and irony of situation (for the latter one may substitute, on occasions, the irony of behavior). At its simplest, verbal irony involves saying what one does not mean.  Johnson defined it as a mode of speech in which the meaning is contrary to the words; such as 'Bolingbroke was a holy man'. Such ironies are often hyperbole (q.v.) or litotes (q.v.). At their very crudest: 'I haven't seen you for ages,' from one man to another  when they meet every day; or 'That's not bad', said of something  superlatively good or beautiful

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