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My name is Liz. I need direction. I overuse commas. My house is a mess, my hair needs a trim and I have no marketable skills: It’s fun here, you’ll see!

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Got a question, comment, proposal of marriage? Great! Email me at liz@theproductivecough.com

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April 28th, 2009

A Lesson

Irony is one of the more commonly misused concepts in our language. According to Alanis Morissette’s song, when you find “a black fly in your Chardonnay,” it’s ironic. Actually, that’s not ironic at all. That’s a health code violation. And the rest of her examples aren’t much better. “A free ride when you’ve already paid”? That’s just you not doing your research, dummy. Unfortunately, this song is where a lot of people I know seemed to have learned the word irony, and as a result spout it left and right to describe any unlucky situation.

To be fair, though, reading a dictionary definition of “irony” isn’t much help, as they’re usually kind of wordy and difficult to understand. Or just plain vague. One of Merriam-Webster’s definitions is “the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning,” which sounds closer to sarcasm. True, sarcasm would not be possible without the concept of irony, but they are not the same thing.

So, to make things easy for anyone who wishes to utilize the concept of irony successfully, I’m providing this photograph I took of “Go Green!” environmental pamphlets as an example to illustrate it properly:


1 comment to A Lesson

  • Toby

    Ironically, none of the examples in the song “Ironic” are irony. How do you like them apples?

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