Minds and Machines

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 635–650 | Cite as

An Ironic Fist in a Velvet Glove: Creative Mis-Representation in the Construction of Ironic Similes



Irony is an effective but challenging mode of communication that allows a speaker to express viewpoints rich in sentiment with concision, sharpness and humour. Creative irony is especially common in online documents that express subjective and deeply-felt opinions, and thus represents a significant obstacle to the accurate analysis of sentiment in web texts. In this paper we look at one commonly used framing device for linguistic irony—the simile—to show how even the most creative uses of irony are often marked in ways that make them computationally feasible to detect. We conduct a very large corpus analysis of web-harvested similes to identify the most interesting characteristics of ironic comparisons, and provide an empirical evaluation of a new algorithm for separating ironic from non-ironic similes.


Irony Mis-representation Expectation Pretence Sentiment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceUniversity College DublinDublinIreland

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