Lao Kou wrote:
An evidential that glosses, "I mean the exact opposite of what I'm saying to you."? What fun is that (what use is that)?
Phenomenally useful. So useful, in fact, that this kind of marking already exists in very many languages, e.g., Japanese!
Oh dear, I fear the pragmatic intention of my entry has been derailed.
Boku wa kimi wo shinjiru means "I believe you." However,
Boku wa kimi wo shinjinai, with a -nai marking on the verb, indicates that the speaker means exactly the opposite, namely, that they don't believe you.
Granted, since the -nai marker doesn't necessarily entail derision, people tend to just call it a negative polarity marker rather than a sarcasm marker and call it a day. Still, though, it is precisely what you describe: a verb marking that glosses "I mean the exact opposite of what I would mean without this marking."
As MrKrov effectively points out, negating an utterance doesn't necessarily negate the truth-value of that utterance. Kimi shinjinai
the same as "I believe you ... (1Mississippi, 2Mississippi...)
NOT!" (and as an aside, as styles of sarcasm go, this is not one of my particular favorites)
Perhaps I was trying too quickly for the rimshot. Perhaps if I had said, "An evidential that glosses, 'I am deliberately saying something to you that I know is categorically untrue.' What's the fun/use of that?" Kind of defeats the purpose of evidentials. We're not in the same realm as, "Well, I heard this from Peter, so you should take this with a grain of salt." or "Mind you, I'm not well-versed in matters like these but...". No, we're saying, "I know this to be untrue, I'm stating it as true, and gosh, aren't I simply a caution
When you get right down to it with truth-values (truth-valencies?), there's not a whole lot of difference between sarcasm and lying. Welcome to pragmatics:
I love that dress on you. (sincere; truth+)
I love that dress on you. (I genuinely don't want to hurt your feelings, I mean well, and hell, maybe by the third drink, I'll mean it; truth?)
I love that dress on you. (I'm only saying this because I want some good luvvin' at the end of the evening; truth-)
I love that dress on you. (I hate it, but I will ooze sarcasm -- motives may vary; truth?)
Now if the identical surface structure of those distresses a conlanging heart to such an extent that they each must be explicitly marked grammatically rather than pragmatically, don't let me stop you. Perhaps there's a conrace out there that live in isolation tanks and who can only communicate though speech-generating devices.
Note also this contradiction: sarcasm is definitely marked
, as you say:
Lao Kou wrote:
That that may be tough to gauge in text bereft of intonation or body language is what emoticons are for
It is certainly not true that sarcasm is not marked. It is typically marked phonologically with intonation patterns, and if not, via body language or pragmatic strategies. So your objection cannot be to marking sarcasm in general, only to marking sarcasm morphologically
Which is what I thought
I was pooh-poohing in this exchange:
Lao Kou wrote:
So here's a new idea: A verbal mood that expresses sarcasm or sardonic statements, formed from an earlier dubitative:
Psh...like you actually killed a bear or something.
...representing sarcasm in text is hard as hell
A fussbudgety "nay" from this contingent. I won't be the first to say this - I've seen it here or elsewhere - hardwiring sarcasm into the grammar really
defeats its purpose.
It seems to me that what Chagen was really
asking for/about is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony_punctuation
, which I don't have a problem with, per se -- after all, it can aid in cuing a reader
in to the intended aural intonations of the metamessage of sarcasm. But like other conlangers before, Chagen has wondered why you couldn't go the extra mile and turn it into a grammatical feature. And to that, I say, "meh".
But if your linguistic community had trained you to indicate derision and cynicism by dropping a syllable on the end of a verb, instead of warping your intonation pattern over the phrase....then what would the difference really be?
I see no reason why you couldn't have a similar negative-polarity marking for verbs that also entailed a derisive attitude.
I was not suggesting that it couldn't be done -- conlanging often examines such questions -- just that it might not, IMNSHO, be the best option out there. If a conrace can be that socially inept, then why not add something grammatical to indicate that when I ask, "Do you have a pen + verb form X?", I really
only want to know about the pen's existence and your ownership relationship to it ("Yes" and walking away will be a perfectly acceptable response); "How are you?" + verb form X = Nope, nothing perfunctory here. I really
want to hear in excruciating detail everything that's happened to you since last we spoke. Leave out nothing
!; "Can I go to the bathroom + X?" = Don't mind me, I'm just musing, finger touching chin, on my physical ability to urinate.
Okay, so I've taken the argument ad absurdum. It's only sarcasm that always seems to be the pragmatic bugaboo. In which case, instead of having a grammatical feature that's like a troll-like Peter Lorre character tailing after you, constantly explaining the jokes to a race of rubes who do sarcasm badly anyway (or worse, what you really have here is a bunch of people incessantly saying "Just kidding." to each other (-- How is
life in PassiveAggressiveLand?)), why not just have a conculture that doesn't do
sarcasm. It's not on the pragmatic menu. Plenty of real-world analogues. Or rather, perhaps, a culture that might not define sarcasm, if it does so at all, with Oscar Wilde at his cocktail party rapier-wittiest as the gold standard.
Oh, this rolled in as I was typing:
It seems to me that if the marking is too hard-wired in the grammar of a language, sarcasm would lose some of its point.
Is all I'm sayin'.