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Sarcasm Expressed In Other Languages


Phi for All
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My wife and I were talking the other day about sarcasm and she made a comment about a roommate she once had who spoke Swedish and explained how crucial the lilting cadence was. We realized that sarcasm in English is normally expressed with exaggerated tones using innocuous words ("No, he *NEVER* gets angry..."). It got us to thinking about how it works in other countries.

 

Is sarcasm expressed the same way in other languages? Especially in languages that often use cadence and emphasis to change the meanings of words? How does your language express sarcasm?

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In british english, you'd tend to generally put any kind of wierd emphasis on the sentance, along with randomly altering the pronunciation of words.

 

'is the ground wet' (when it's raining):

 

well, ob-vee-arse-lee no, what-with-it-not-rai-ning-right-now, and rain-not-being-made-out-of-wa-tar-which-def-in-aet-lee-isn't-wet.

 

or as in american, but possibly with elongation more likely than emphasis ('no, he neeeeeeeever gets angry'), or completley dead-pan.

 

at least, that's what i'm used to.

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I find that redneck sarcasm seems to be repetition with emphasis, usually with a partner.

 

EX: <dude> "Hey guys, you like beer?"

<redneck#1> "Hey, Billy Bob, he wants to know if we like beer!"

<redneck#2> "Shucks, I was hopin' fer some wine n' cheeeeze"

 

Laughter

 

Or, its the stealth sarcasm - hard to detect.

 

<dude> "Hey is that knife sharp?"

<redneck#1> "Nah, I stabbed a guy in the head with it and ain't got around to sharpin it yet"

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well, ob-vee-arse-lee no, what-with-it-not-rai-ning-right-now, and rain-not-being-made-out-of-wa-tar-which-def-in-aet-lee-isn't-wet.
OK, over-emphasis in tone, mocking cadence and denial of the obvious, cool. Erm, I mean, what-a-yoo-neek per-speck-tive, Dak!

 

I usually deadpan my sarcasm, or just make it unusually enthusiastic in tone.
So, either emphasizing or de-emphasizing facial expression and tone. But the words stay relatively the same, right?

 

<dude> "Hey guys, you like beer?"

<redneck#1> "Hey, Billy Bob, he wants to know if we like beer!"

<redneck#2> "Shucks, I was hopin' fer some wine n' cheeeeze"

I guess this is "remark" sarcasm, coming up with something completely at odds with what's really happening (both rednecks are already holding a beer and there's several "dead soldiers" lying on the porch, right?).

 

<dude> "Hey is that knife sharp?"

<redneck#1> "Nah, I stabbed a guy in the head with it and ain't got around to sharpin it yet"

Oooh, that is subtle. Not sure if that even *is* sarcasm, or just a veiled southern threat. ;)

 

 

 

Any languages other than English? While I think some of the other European languages may share similar traits with English, I'm also really interested in how the Asian, Middle Eastern and Slavic languages express sarcasm. And if anyone speaks one of those lilting Scandinavian tongues, how do you do it?

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Apf. I'm sure it's ONLY liberals who use sarcasm!! (Or was that irony?)

 

But serially, the Japanese seem to have a strong penchant for the use of sarcasm in personal titles, which is kind of interesting. In watching anime programs and movies, it's always interesting to see the interplay between the uses of "-san", "-sama", and "-chan", which is sometimes used sarcastically as "-chin". Sometimes they use no suffix at all, which also has meaning. It's not really all that different from stuff we do in English, though, it's just perhaps a bit more formalized.

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In the rare case that Finnish people talk to each other, sarcasm is in most cases expressed in exaggerated tones too. Something people like to do is add a long "yeah right" sort of thing in the beginning of a sentence which reduces the need for exaggerated tones somewhat. Sometimes words comparable to "indeed" are used, especially if speaking in a "mockingly praising" tone. The same words are sometimes used in a humorous tone to acknowledge sarcasm. Overall I don't think it differs too much from English.

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Apf. I'm sure it's ONLY liberals who use sarcasm!! (Or was that irony?)

 

But serially, the Japanese seem to have a strong penchant for the use of sarcasm in personal titles, which is kind of interesting. In watching anime programs and movies, it's always interesting to see the interplay between the uses of "-san", "-sama", and "-chan", which is sometimes used sarcastically as "-chin". Sometimes they use no suffix at all, which also has meaning. It's not really all that different from stuff we do in English, though, it's just perhaps a bit more formalized.

 

hmm... doesn't that mean mr/mrs (san), lord (sama), and young female kid (chan)?

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Apf. I'm sure it's ONLY liberals who use sarcasm!! (Or was that irony?)
Is there such a thing as "annoyony"? ;)

 

But serially, the Japanese seem to have a strong penchant for the use of sarcasm in personal titles, which is kind of interesting.
I used to manage a property with a sushi restaurant in it, and one of the chefs always used "-sama" when he spoke to me. I was younger and easily flattered and only after that chef had moved on did I find out from some of the other chefs that he hated my guts and was just patronizing me with mock respect. Way too subtle for a rubber chicken guy like me. :D

 

In the rare case that Finnish people talk to each other, sarcasm is in most cases expressed in exaggerated tones too. Something people like to do is add a long "yeah right" sort of thing in the beginning of a sentence which reduces the need for exaggerated tones somewhat. Sometimes words comparable to "indeed" are used, especially if speaking in a "mockingly praising" tone. The same words are sometimes used in a humorous tone to acknowledge sarcasm. Overall I don't think it differs too much from English.
Interesting, so a sort of disclaimer phrase to set the tone, then you let 'em have it. Very civilized and honorable, you Finns. When you're speaking to each other at all, that is (you owe me a sip of coffee for that one, Gildy).

 

Klingons don't tolerate sarcasm.
I'm actually very curious if there is a culture (terrestrial) that doesn't use sarcasm. For a while I wondered about the Chinese. A few experiences where sarcasm seemed to fly right over Chinese heads made me think it just wasn't part of their culture, but I think their response was, in itself, somewhat sarcastic, now that I think about it.
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In Brazilian Portuguese, it's like Phi for All mentioned in U.S. Like:

 

"Yeaaaaah! He works a loooot!"

Using a sarcastic tone.

 

So I can judge from that that Brazilians are lazy and don't work much as a rule. Thank you for confirming my stereotypes. :P

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So I can judge from that that Brazilians are lazy and don't work much as a rule. Thank you for confirming my stereotypes. :P

 

So, we get more without working hard? It sounds good for me. :P

 

Many Brazilians are lazy, but it isn't a stereotype definitely as many Americans are (and other countries too). It's not something by country.

 

But well, what cares is that I am not lazy. That's enough for me. :cool:

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I wouldn't say lazy, but laid back. Brazilians have got their priorities in the right order!

 

I'm sure your second sentence is sarcastic and you are right. Brazilians have their priorities in the wrong order, absolutely. The Brazilian government and the Brazilian media prefers to exhibit fool things than value education. It is a disgusting problem usually involved with Latin American countries. But what can't happen is prejudice against people from those countries. You cannot generalize it.

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Actually I wasn't being sarcastic. I imagine it's different if you live in a Latin country, but from my point of view taking a break from work-work-work and coming to Brasil to chill with you guys was awesome.

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Rio de Janeiro!

 

Rio is awesome.

You may not believe it, but even if living here I've never gone to Christ, The Redemptor nor Corcovado and other tourism attractions of here. I know American ones who has gone twice haha.

 

--------

 

Sarcasm here is used VERY often.

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