Sarcasm is described as a biting, bitter mockery or scorn, which often attacks the personal qualities of the mocked. This is the conscious ridicule of a person, a group or their values. In the literature, sarcasm usually occurs in the form of satire or polemic. In antiquity, sarcasm was regarded as a figure of speech and can therefore be regarded as a rhetorical style. Sarcasm can be expressed by direct naming of what is meant, or indirectly by irony. The talk figure is related to ridicule, cynicism and irony.
The term can be derived from the Greek (σαρκασμός ~ sarkasmós) and translated with comminution and biting mockery. According to this, the translation of the word already points to what is at stake: namely, a mocking, that is, ridicule, which literally tears the opponent [and attacks him personally]. Let’s look at an example.
A chubby lady presents her new dress in the office.
“Was not the dress in your size?” A colleague calls.
In the above example, the overweight woman is sarcastically handled by her colleague. We recognize this by the fact that the statement makes the chubby ridiculous and ridicules them because of their personal and physical characteristics. A benevolent man might have lied and yet compliment her, and a good friend might have pointed out that the dress is narrow and unfavorable. The colleague, however, is sarcastic and points bitterly to the woman’s overweight.
There are numerous examples from everyday life, which mainly focus on the appearance of the mocked. However, sarcasm can also ridicule the values, actions or attitudes of a person or group, and is often combined with irony. The ironic means that the speaker expresses something, which means exactly the opposite of the expressed. An example:
The boss sees a worker sitting idly at his desk.
“Do not rework, Herr Meier!” She says to him.
In this example, irony and sarcasm coincide. It is ironic that the boss would like to express exactly the opposite, if she points out that Mr Meier is not to rework. To recognize this irony, a common knowledge is necessary between the two, because otherwise it can be misunderstood. Since one is working on the work but usual and does not rest, both know that the boss means the opposite of what is said.
The statement is sarcastic, because Mr. Meier is made ridiculous, so mocked when the boss indirectly points out that he is not working, that is, lazing. Accordingly, she makes the point that he is lazy, which makes the whole thing a ridiculous one of the person addressed. Thus the example shows a form of ironic sarcasm. Finally, an explanatory video:
Difference: irony, sarcasm and cynicism
If the sarcastic was recognized in the statement, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a closeness to cynicism and irony. But even if the three concepts are related to one another and are partly similar, they can be distinguished. That is why we want to highlight the differences.
Irony: As a rhetorical stylistic means, it primarily means the fact that something is expressed by the contrary. It is important that the recipient is aware that this is the case. Otherwise, the ironic is misunderstood. It is therefore a common knowledge that the utterance is ironic, necessary. Irony uses the technique of meaning reversal and is a means to express something.
Sarcasm: Signs of mockery or mockery. Sarcasm can be expressed ironically when the opposite is said. However, he can also be completely free of irony. In contrast to irony, sarcasm is not a technique but an intention of the statement. This should clearly mock the recipient as well as ridicule. The mean can be expressed directly or indirectly.
Cynicism: In contrast to irony and sarcasm, describes a kind of mental attitude. Cynicism is not a technique but a life setting. A cynic rejects central norms and morals of society and makes them ridiculous. Cynicism is such a character. Who makes the values of other people ridiculous, violates and ridicules them deliberately. Cynical remarks can, however, be sarcastic and ironic, which is why the distinction is difficult in individual cases.
Sarcasm as stylistic means
Because sarcasm is the goal of making another person or group ridiculous, it is hard to call him clear as a rhetorical stylistic device. After all, ridicule is at the forefront, which is why the craftsmanship of Spr
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