On Ironic Puns in Portuguese Authentic Oral Data: How does multiple meaning make irony work?

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In the present paper we focus on two Portuguese case studies (one in European Portuguese – EP and one in Brazilian Portuguese – BP) of the ironic oral discourse that result in verbal puns. In our analysis we postulate that studying multiple meanings (polysemy and homonymy) in puns can explain how irony functions on cognitive, linguistic and cultural levels given that (i) irony is a fundamental way of thinking about human experience (Gibbs & Colston, 2007, Gibbs, 2012); (ii) it is perspectivised and culturally grounded (Tobin & Israel, 2012, Dancygier & Sweetser, 2012, 2015); and (iii) linguistically explicit in verbal irony (Bryant, 2012, cf. Batoréo, 2016). The study is qualitative in character: the aim of the analysis is to exemplify cognitive and linguistic mechanisms culturally grounded that make irony work. In two case studies of authentic Portuguese discourse with ironic puns chosen out of larger corpora (cf. References) to be discussed in the present paper we shall argue that (i) polysemy and homonymy are cognitive and linguistic phenomena that trigger ironic puns; (ii) metonymy organised in metonymical chains or networks can be a complex cognitive mechanism that underlies polysemy; (iii) verbal puns are perspectivised and strongly culturally and historically grounded.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIrony in Language Use and Communication
EditorsA. Athanasiadou, H. Colston
Place of PublicationAmsterdão
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9789027264824
ISBN (Print)9789027209856
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Irony
  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • Cultural Linguistics
  • Verbal puns
  • Authentic oral discourse
  • Polysemy
  • Metonymy
  • Homonymy
  • Portuguese (EP and BP)
  • Spanish


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