Beep, beep, beep, if there was a magical sarcasm detector, yeah, that would be great. But alas there isn’t. However, you can still sense its presence. Of course, this is easier when speaking, but writing not so much. It’s possible though, here are some very strong indicators.
Humor is Clearly Used
If humor is already in use, there’s an increased chance that whatever offends you is not meant to be taken seriously, or meant at all. Sarcasm is a form of parody, hyperbole, it’s often dry, or hyperbolic delivery is meant to highlight ridiculousness.
Other kinds of humor accompanying it, highlights it even more, makes it sound more surreal. You will never see sarcasm by itself, or as the only tool used to achieve this.Sarcasm is actually very grounded, provides balance. That interrupts the giggle fits, makes you stop and think.
What are You Reading?
Term Papers and an article in “The Onion” are two very different things, they don’t sound alike at all. Because they’re not supposed to. They communicate their points, and seriousness, in their own ways.
If a document is intrinsically more serious, structured, dry, and not fun to read- there won’t be a lot of sarcasm. But an article on “Yes I am Judging You”, www.ehadams.wordpress.com, is intrinsically serious, but not. It has a different feel, and different elements, style. It will be sarcastic and humorous. More fun to read, so expect to hopefully giggle a little.
You cannot overlook tone in writing. You don’t have to read it out loud, but you get the mood, intention, of a piece from reading it, and hints like the topic, other writing elements.
If the tone is less serious, expect humor and sarcasm. If it’s serious, don’t not expect it, but expect it less. “I’m a monkey’s uncle”, is a serious statement in an autobiography written by a hyper-intelligent monkey, who is an uncle. And the hard road it had in life, being accepted by human society, with stories of loss, hope, friendship, and how life is bananas but beautiful.
“I’m a monkey’s uncle” used by Scar in “The Lion King”, is not meant to be taken seriously. It was a joke, his only joke in the entire movie. Simba was also clearly a lion, not a monkey. Scar was being sarcastic, and only equating Simba with a monkey because of his shenanigans.
Sarcasm is meant to be taken, but not literally.
Jews Caused the Civil War
Oh my, they did? What a- this statement seems out of place, shocking, why is….like Scar’s only joke in “The Lion King”. Sarcasm is disjarring and out of place in it’s essence. It’s shocking, it makes a point, makes you think, then laugh.
Some things are also just so categorically untrue, and people who know this will say them, but not mean them. It’s their way of mocking it. As Scar was mocking Simba in “The Lion King”, me saying “Jews Caused the Civil War”, is mocking that person on Twitter who actually sent me that link to that website.
Language is key, they don’t just have denotations, they have connotations. They carry certain meanings, history. If words humorous, or not that serious or academic in nature are being used, that’s a sign.
Not to say that big, scary looking words can’t be used not seriously, but it’s just extra work for the writer and reader. It takes a very special, specific audience to warrant that extra work.
For example, “As a Christian, I am cool with schmersmorchman.” Obviously, duh, everyone knows what schmersmorchman is.
But “As a Catholic, I am against antidisestablishmenterrianism”, the heck? It takes work, and the more work it takes, the faster the humor flies away. Although if you get it, it’s kind of funny, and pretty darn sarcastic.
Sarcasm is hard to pull off in writing, successfully, and even harder to detect. But it can be done, and there are signs. You just have to know what you’re looking for, and not be offended by everything you don’t immediately get.