Affective Twist in Irony Processing
Traditionally irony has been researched as a verbal mode of communicating non-literal meaning. Yet, the extant literal/non-literal meaning oriented research provided conflicting evidence and failed to explain how irony vs. non-irony is processed. The dominant literal/non-literal meaning approach hasn’t accounted for the role of attitudinal non-propositional contents so crucially involved in irony communication and comprehension. Employed to communicate indirectly, on top of non-literal meaning, irony serves to convey implicit attitudes: emotional load non-propositionally attached to the propositional contents. The role of emotional contents implicitly communicated by irony has not been acknowledged in irony research so far. This paper reviews irony and attitude research, focusing on the non-propositional, emotional contents, aiming to bridge the propositional-non-propositional meaning gap in irony research. Neuroimaging and behavioral evidence showing that emotional load profoundly influences communicative contents processing, priming its computation and determining its processing patterns, is presented, and its role for irony processing is highlighted.
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