A Method of Modern Chinese Irony Detection

  • An-Ran LiEmail author
  • Chu-Ren Huang
Part of the Frontiers in Chinese Linguistics book series (FiCL, volume 9)


Irony is a kind of expressions whose literal meaning is the reversal of its real meaning. Although the understanding of ironies is considered as highly depend on the contextual information, there should be some cues in grammatical and semantical level. In this research, we try to find these linguistic cues by the observation of large scale corpora. We will find the frequently-used ironic constructions, then analyze the features and the generation mechanism of them. We notice that the intensity of ironic expressions relies on its immediacy of coercing the listener to experience the reversal. We conclude seven kinds of reversal in Chinese irony and summarize their formalized features. We also design an Irony Identification Procedure (IIP) to help us to detect ironies. In the future, we plan to classify the features and compare the efficiency of them by computational methods to get the quantized data, and then finally find an effective way to detect irony automatically.


Irony detection Construction Reversal theory Irony identification procedure 


  1. Apter, M.J. 1984. Reversal theory and personality: A review. Journal of Research in Personality 18 (3): 265–288.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Burgers, C., M. Van Mulken, and P.J. Schellens. 2011. Finding irony: An introduction of the verbal irony procedure (VIP). Metaphor and Symbol 26 (3): 186–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Culler, J.D. 1985/1988. On puns: The foundation of letters. Basil Blackwell/Internet-First University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Deng, Z., X.-Y. Jia, and J.-J. Chen. 2015. 邓钊, 贾修一, 陈家骏: Research on Chinese irony detection in microblog 面向微博的中文反语识别研究. Computer Engineering & Science 计算机工程与科学 37 (12): 2312–2317.Google Scholar
  5. Ding, J. 2018. A lexical semantic study of Chinese opposites. Singapore: Springer Singapore.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Goldberg, A.E. 1995. Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago, USA: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Grice, H.P. 1975. Logic and conversation. In Speech acts, vol. 3, ed. P. Cole, and J.L. Morgan, 4-1-58. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  8. Hsu, H.C., and I. Lily. 2014. Love in disguise: Incongruity between text and music in song. Journal of Pragmatics 62:136–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Huang, C.-R. 2019. Double meaning and reversal: Toward an empirical linguistic account of irony. In 2019 Joint Conference of Linguistic Societies in Korea & The 26th Joint Workshop on Linguistics and Language Processing (JWLLP-26). Seoul, Korea.Google Scholar
  10. Ivanko, S.L., and P.M. Pexman. 2003. Context incongruity and irony processing. Discourse Processes 35 (3): 241–279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jiang, Y. 2019. Chinese and counterfactual reasoning. In The Routledge handbook of Chinese applied linguistics, ed. H. Chu-Ren, M. Barbara, and J.-S. Zhuo. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Joshi, A., V. Sharma, and P. Bhattacharyya. 2015. Harnessing context incongruity for sarcasm detection. In Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 7th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing, vol. 2, pp. 757–762.Google Scholar
  13. Laszlo, A.X. 2017. A corpus-based textual analysis of irony and sarcasm in scripted discourse. Doctoral dissertation. The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.Google Scholar
  14. Lv, S.-X., and S.-S. Ding (eds.). 2016. 吕叔湘, 丁声树 编撰: Modern Chinese dictionary 现代汉语词典. Beijing, China: The Commercial Press 商务印书馆.Google Scholar
  15. Pragglejaz Group. 2007. MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol 22 (1): 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Searle, J.R. 1976. A classification of illocutionary acts. Language in Society 5 (1): 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Sperber, D., and D. Wilson. 1981. Irony and the use-mention distinction. Philosophy 3: 143–184.Google Scholar
  18. Sperber, D., and D. Wilson. 1986. Relevance: Communication and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Steen, G.J., A.G. Dorst, J.B. Herrmann, A.A. Kaal, T. Krennmayr, and T. Pasma. 2010. A method for linguistic metaphor identification: From MIP to MIPVU, 25–42. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Su, I.W., and S. Huang. 2019. An overview and a case study. In The Routledge handbook of Chinese applied linguistics, ed. C.R. Huang, Z. Jing-Schmidt, and B. Meisterernst. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Tang, Y.-J., and H.-H. Chen. 2014. Chinese irony corpus construction and ironic structure analysis. In Proceedings of COLING 2014, the 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics, 1269–1278.Google Scholar
  22. Wilson, D. 2006. The pragmatics of verbal irony: Echo or pretence? Lingua 116 (10): 1722–1743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wilson, D., and D. Sperber. 2012. Explaining irony. Meaning and Relevance, 123–145.Google Scholar
  24. Zhan, W.-D., et al. 2016. 詹卫东 等: Processing specification of contemporary Chinese construction knowledge base现代汉语构式知识库填写规范. Department of Chinese Language and Literature of Peking University, Center for Chinese Linguistics of Peking University, Key Laboratory of Computational Linguistics of Peking University北京大学中文系, 北京大学中国语言学研究中心, 北京大学计算语言学教育部重点实验室, Beijing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peking University Press 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chinese and Bilingual StudiesThe Hong Kong Polytechnic UniversityHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations