I have never, in this column, expressed a political viewpoint. I respect Courier readers and believe they can, and probably already will have, made up their minds on any given subject.
Nothing I can say would change anyone’s mind. Indeed, I think those who believe they can realign others to their political viewpoint possess a delusional sort of arrogance.
However, for one time only I’m going to make a statement about a politician.
Donald Trump is an odd sort of chap.
He claimed last week that he was “being sarcastic” when appearing to suggest that disinfectant might be injected to combat Coronavirus. Which made me, and probably the rest of the world, respond with some variation of: “Aye right. Sure you were Donald.”
There is an interesting point here. I have just attempted a written sarcasm and hope, but cannot be absolutely sure, that it has worked. Because the use of sarcasm is extremely difficult to pull off in text.
Sarcasm is, therefore, approached very carefully by writers. It is a reversal of what you actually mean. It is often mockery, sometimes irony, sometimes understatement, and almost always context dependant.
Many remedies have been tried over the centuries for signalling when sarcasm is being written. Sarcasm punctuation marks have been suggested, with various candidates such as a reversed question mark, an inverted exclamation mark, or that funny squiggle ~ on the extreme right of a qwerty keyboard’s middle row, the tilde, to give its proper name.
But none of these have achieved universal use. Anyway, a piece of sarcastic writing, liberally sown with ~ marks, would surely be confusing.
In speech, though, sarcasm is easy to do and done often but almost always involves kinesics, which is the interpretation of body movements in communication. Nowadays the popular term is body language. A tilt of the head, gestures, tone of voice, inflexion, and many other “signs” are used when being sarcastic.
Try saying “Sure you were Donald” aloud (as if he were standing before you with his bottle of bleach) and note the tone, head-nods, eyebrow movement, or other visual indicators you use. Other people might do it very differently, although members of the same family often employ similar sarcasm indicators.
The way you do it could be termed the accent with which you use body language.
For getting us to think deeply about sarcasm, we should thank Mr Trump. He’s a very, very clever man.
Word of the week
Showing deep understanding and intelligent application of knowledge. EG: “Does anyone have any sapient ideas for the use of disinfectant?”
Read the latest Oh my word! every Saturday in The Courier. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org