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Children's Understanding and Use of Sarcasm

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Hyemi Lim

on 28 April 2010

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Transcript of Children's Understanding and Use of Sarcasm

Children's Understanding and Use of Sarcasm Why this topic?

sarcastic remark in class
Adults use sarcasm daily--
"Thanks a lot!"
"Can you walk any faster?"
false, mocking praise and verbal irony of expression rather than its malcious or scornful intent www.sarcasmsociety.com/sarcasm http://www.secure-power.com/images/confused.jpg Types
Understatement- "Great weather!"

Indirect request-"Can you talk louder next time?"
-Ironic criticism
-Ironic complement
(Pexman, 2005)
"Just what I've always wanted! A blue sofa!" http://proudatheists.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/9children.jpg Characteristics/Cues
Tone of voice- intonation and emphasis
"Thanks!" [with nasal voice]
Sincere vs. sarcastic
Elongate words
Flat tone

Nonverbal cues
facial expression
rolling eyes

When do they start understanding sarcasm?

Most researchers confirm that children up until adolescence have difficulty understanding sarcasm.
no one age, but can be as young as 3
Age 6- detect
Age 10- starts to understand humor (Ackerman, 1982; Capelli, Nakagawa, & Madden; 1990; Creusere, 1999; Ford & Milosky, 1997) Why can't they understand??

Literal thinkers
-Recognize verbal message only
-Difficulty in seeing intent
-rely on contextual cues than
-Can detect, but don't find it

(Winner, Levy, Kaplan, & Rosenblatt, 1988)
1. Left side of the brain- process literal meaning

http://people.howstuffworks.com/sarcasm1.htm Laval (2005) Research-
French-speaking children
younger children (age 5) understood sarcasm when used sarcastic intonation
older children (7+) understood simply by context
when given only contextual, children interpreted as lie Definition-
"a sharp, bitter, or cutting expression or remark"

The Oxford Universal Dictionary, 1933 http://www.healthychildcare-wa.org/_images/fingerpaint.jpg 2. Frontal lobe and right side of the brain:
-suppress an urge to respond
to that literal meaning
-look for the true intent of
the words based on facial
expressions, intonation and
familiarity with the person
speaking the words
3. Right ventromedial prefrontal cortex integrate literal and intent meaning to recognize sarcasm and respond accordingly, often with laughter or an icy stare http://playwithyourmind.com/images/brain-icon.png (Pexman, 2005) http://www.subu.org.uk/files/minisites/1212/tv_licence.jpg Still unclear how children comprehend sarcasm, but some factors could include:
amount used at home
their social milieu
the types of television shows they watch. Paxman et al. (2005) Research-
tested 7 -to 10 -year old children, presenting them with various scenarios played out with puppets
4 types of statements in context
Puppet relationship described beforehand

children tended to identify with the target, not the speaker
perceived less humor in irony
children’s appreciation of the teasing function of irony continues to develop late in middle childhood
children did not use relationship information as a cue
Inability to understand sarcasm?

lesions in the brain or brain damage. Tips for parents and teachers

1. Help build self-esteem with praise
2. Make sure they "get it"
3. Constantly be aware of what you say and educate them the apporpriate usage

ESOL students
May be difficult to understand because of the differences between intonation patterns
Be cautious in using sarcasm
recommend that students view TV shows that use sarcasm so they can better infer it Conclusion
Teenagers' use of sarcasm
"Sarcasm" derives from ancient Greek for "to tear flesh, gnash the teeth, speak bitterly." Although sarcasts may just intend to be funny, their words can also be very hurtful to the intended target.
Educate and be careful in using them http://people.howstuffworks.com/sarcasm1.htm How is it understood in our brain?
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