Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Misfortunate Coincidence of Irony

I'm no expert on irony -- who is? Kierkegaard wrote a huge book on it (The Concept of Irony, 1841), so obviously there's a lot to say. But I'm
still surprised at how many of us confuse three very different concepts:

1. IRONY: "incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result; an event or result marked by such incongruity."

2. COINCIDENCE: "the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection."

3. MISFORTUNE: "an event or conjunction of events that causes an unfortunate or distressing result."


Blogger The Masticator said...

It occurred to me to write this after I interviewed a software company representative (for my day job) who kept using "ironic" when he should have been saying "remarkable." I'd talked to the guy before -- he's very bright and abnormally articulate (and usually quotable) for his field.

But he'd talk about how ironic something was when it was really just a coincidence: some customers of his company happened to be customers of the company his firm just purchased. It's interesting, maybe fortuitous. Ironic would be if a customer left the other company and came to his company to get better service, only to find that in the end, they were actually the same company.

And then there's that song. The 'rain on one's wedding day' song that eats away at some of the way errant apostrophes bug some of us. Rain on a wedding day is unfortunate. It's sad, it's disappointing, but it's not ironic. Ironic would be if you moved your wedding indoors because you thought it would rain, but then it didn't. It would be deliciously ironic if, after you moved it indoors, the building's sprinkler system malfunctioned, drenching you and your guests.

12:03 AM  
Blogger Screaming Annie said...

God bless you, masticator.
That song has angered me for many a year for the gross misuse of word 'irony'.
It is very refreshing to read such a well written rebuke.

12:49 AM  

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