Iranian EFL Learners’ Pragmatic Interpretation of Irony: Textual and Audio-Visual Cues in Focus

Document Type : Research Paper


1 M.A. in TEFL, Department of English, Shahreza Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shahreza, Iran

2 Assistant Professor, Department of English, Shahreza Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shahreza, Iran


The current study was an attempt to investigate the relationship between language proficiency and the interpretation of ironic utterance by Iranian EFL learners and the impact of audio-visual modality on the ability of learners to interpret irony; it also examined which contextual cues, namely textual cues and audio-visual cues, are more used for detecting irony by Iranian EFL learners. To this end, fifty-three homogenized participants attended the study and tried to identify the ironies extracted from the American sitcom How I met your mother using two types of contextual cues. The findings of the current study revealed that there was no significant relationship between the learners’ language proficiency and their detecting ironic utterances. Moreover, findings indicated the irony comprehension was more accurate when the comment was presented in an audio-visual modality. Results also indicated that the most frequent cues which were used by Iranian EFL learners were positive words and neutral words, however, the least frequent linguistic cues were polite requests and superlative adjectives. Facial expressions and body movements were the most frequent visual cues, and intonation in the voice was the most frequent prosodic cue. Results suggest that multimodality-oriented teachings can improve irony comprehension.