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SARCASM - Exploratory Essay/ Need editing & suggestions to improve


m_lyd6 1 / -  
Apr 21, 2013   #1
Length
: No more than 4 pages.
Purpose(s)
:
1. To apply critical thinking skills to language.
2. To heighten your awareness of figurative language.
3. To provide practice for writing which pursues as many parts of an idea
as possible.
4. To allow you to get inside language and go for a walk.
Assignment
:
1. Think of examples of moments in your life when language has been important. These may be
moments in which words have created conflict or solved it; when learning a word has made you
rethink old values and ideas; or when language has failed you or saved the day. Think about why
you use certain words in certain situations and how those words affect your behaviour. Think of
some of the odd phrases and sayings that pop up in your everyday speech. Where do they come
from? How did they develop?
2. Write an essay in which you explore one way that language matters to you. Make sure that
you are investigating
language
, specifically, rather than concepts, generally. There's a
difference.
"Why is the sky blue?" for example, is not a question about language. It is a question about a
scientific property.
"Why do we say you have "the blues" when you're sad?" is a question about language. So is
"why don't you have `the reds' when you're sad?" and "Is the sky sad when it's `blue'?"
3. You can choose the form you feel is best for this paper. The
purpose
is to explore language.
You don't need to have a
thesis
or to produce an argument, you merely have to make sure your
readers can follow you as you explore every bay and inlet possible in terms of the language
you've chosen to look at.
Evaluation
:
I will be examining how well you have:
1. explored all aspects of the concept you have chosen,
2. generated original and perceptive insights,
3. organized and structured your paper to efficiently keep your reader interested,
4. developed effective paragraphs which flow together smoothly,
5. displayed your interest in lively articulation,
6. used proper grammar and spelling

A look inside Sarcasm

Sarcasm is a figure of speech that conveys a variety of meanings and uses. It is employed in a number of ways and in almost any context. The meaning of an utterance can shift from genuine to sarcastic simply by changing the pitch or tone of one's voice. However, sarcasm seems to have a bad reputation; the definition of sarcasm in the Oxford Dictionary Of English (3 ed.) is: "the use of irony to mock or convey contempt." The word itself is derived from Greek sarkazein "tear flesh," or from late Greek "gnash the teeth, speak bitterly." (OED) It is evident that sarcasm is indeed, by definition, not nice. But is sarcasm always a nasty form of communication? By definition it comes across as a verbal form of assault, a malicious rip into the ego of its victims. Is that really it though? Is there not more to sarcasm than anger and cruelty? Is it possible that maybe the effects of this word have exceeded its recorded definition?

There is no doubt that there are many ways in which sarcasm can be used to "speak bitterly." For example, it is commonly used as a way to point out another's lack of intelligence when they have made a mistake or should they do something we identify as stupid: "Way to go moron," could be used if someone jumped into their vehicle, threw it in reverse without looking, and ploughed into a car parked behind them; A little congratulatory remark on a really smart move. These types of comments are usually delivered in a very blatant manner in order to convey the sheer stupidity of one's actions. Sarcasm is also a delightful way to deliver the message to a lazy partner or spouse if they repeatedly "don't hear" you ask them to do a simple task such as take out the garbage. One of my favorites: "Due to a recent reduction in my wages, I can no longer afford the legs I normally purchase to enable the garbage to walk itself outside. Guess you're going to have to start doing it hey?" ; yet another example of bitterness in sarcasm, only slightly more amusing. As much as this may irritate the one the sarcasm is directed at (should they lack a sense of humor), it sure is fun to be the one making the amusing statement. Sarcasm can also prove to be a very satisfying way for employees of the customer service industry to tell irritating customers that they are just that - irritating. However, being a good judge of character is necessary in such a situation, as the recipient of the sarcastic remark needs to detect the sarcasm and be able to laugh about it. This is also a blatant form of sarcasm, it is meant to be funny for both parties, although the one making the statement is secretly, not joking.

Some people view any form of sarcasm as ignorance and of poor character. Au contraire!. A lovely website I recently came across, sarcasmsociety . com, brings a lovely tidbit of information to the attention of its readers, informing us that there is now scientific evidence that shows that in order to understand sarcasm, an individual must possess some social intelligence. Social intelligence as defined by top American business leader, and author Karl Albrecht as "an awareness of situations and the social dynamics that govern them, and a knowledge of interaction styles and strategies that can help a person achieve his or her objectives in dealing with others." (Albrecht) Those that do not understand sarcasm generally prove to be either autistic, have semantic dementia, or some form of right hemisphere brain damage. This is not to assume these are the only people that do not understand sarcasm. Other things to consider include cultural boundaries, and language barriers, as well as those with certain disabilities that prevent them from either hearing or detecting the tone involved in a sarcastic statement. Nor can children under the age of eight or so grasp the use of sarcasm. Language is still very black and white to young children, making sarcasm a poor way to communicate with them. They don't understand the underlying meaning veiled within a sarcastic statement, and usually interpret anything that is said to them literally; this is a case when sarcasm can be toxic. If a child scribbles on a wall, and when you discover it you sarcastically remark "nice work, that's just great," they are going to think you are happy with them and they are going to do it again to please you. Really, it comes down to common sense: as with most things in life, there is a time and a context.

Personally, I love sarcasm. It is my favorite kind of humor. It can be used to lighten the mood in a tense situation, or ease the discomfort of a possibly embarrassing situation. For instance: I am extremely klutzy and quite often trip on my own feet or, more commonly, nothing. Quite often there are witnesses to my display of utter grace, and I am sure they assume I would be embarrassed by tripping on nothing, as many people would be. They are sweet and try to be polite and not laugh, and I usually follow my lumbering display with a comment such as "It's a good thing I am so graceful, hey?" They immediately relax and usually laugh. So using sarcasm against oneself to ease the discomfort of others is an example of a non hurtful playful way in which sarcasm can be used.

Sarcasm is such a divergent aspect of language. It is used in so many situations for so many different reasons; it is used to ridicule and humiliate, but also to provide humor and comfort. It can also be used to communicate efficiently when other means of communication have undoubtedly failed. It can be used blatantly or subtly, to anger or amuse. So does the meaning of sarcasm really stretch no further than the boundaries of the harsh and unpleasant definition it has been confined to? Or is it time to broaden the ancient meaning behind this possibly misunderstood form of language?



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