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Lord Yupa

February 2010

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No, not really.

I was flipping through channels, and I came across something on Fox where some chick was singing Alanis Morissette's song, "Ironic".

It reminded me of a tirade that an English professor of mine once launched on the class. That song came on the radio, and she flipped out. She said that she'd come up with a new term, which she called, 'Alanis's Irony'.

Alanis's Irony referred to people who incorrectly used the words irony or ironic to refer to something that wasn't, in fact, irony or ironic. She blamed Ms. Morissette in part for the fact that way too many people are ignorant of what irony is, and that due to her misuse (if you actually listen to the song, none of the things she lists and mentions are actually ironic (So I guess the answer to her question, "Isn't it ironic?" would be a definite, "No!")) tons of people have started calling any sort of odd coincidence or strange occurrence 'irony'.

So, to help keep my old English professor from going insane, I'm passing on her words of wisdom (as she asked us to do), along with a dictionary definition of "irony":
Main Entry: iro·ny
Pronunciation: 'I-r&-nE also 'I(-&)r-nE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -nies
Etymology: Latin ironia, from Greek eirOnia, from eirOn dissembler
Date: 1502
1 : a pretense of ignorance and of willingness to learn from another assumed in order to make the other's false conceptions conspicuous by adroit questioning -- called also Socratic irony
2 a : the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning b : a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony c : an ironic expression or utterance
3 a (1) : incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result (2) : an event or result marked by such incongruity b : incongruity between a situation developed in a drama and the accompanying words or actions that is understood by the audience but not by the characters in the play -- called also dramatic irony, tragic irony


Well, truth be told, some of Alanis's parts can be seen as ironic -- for instance, the rain on the wedding day is a situation that has incongruous nature. Rain is usually a very depressing weather event for most people, and a wedding a very happy one, the incongruity being rain makes people sad, but the day itself is a good one because of the wedding. I disagree with people who say that the Ironic song has -no- irony, just that the irony isn't as readily apparent as just the words.

Now, I do disagree with the use of the word 'ironic' to mean just any sequence of events that has double nature, but the obvious ignorance of planning a wedding or something along those lines -- or the irony of a rained out wedding still going on and not being post-poned just because.. Or what if the rain started while they were in the chapel, and she's wearing all white or something along those lines...


Ironic it is

actually, according to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, "an ironic situation is one in which something strange and unexpecte happens, especially in a way that seems amusing."
your professor was right in the fact that there wasn't an irony in that song, cuz irony and ironic per se, have their own meanings and are not to be confused for the other.

"A free ride, when you've already payed"
"A traffic jam when you're already late"
The part where the man died in a plane crash when he had avoided taking a plane his whole life.

All these situations are ironic, in the sense that they were amusing, if not unexpected.
or maybe, they are expected, since the worse things always seem to happen to us when we're already in a bad enough situation.

Re: Ironic it is

your professor was right in the fact that there wasn't an irony in that song, cuz irony and ironic per se, have their own meanings and are not to be confused for the other.

Erm, actually, no. That's not true.

'irony' and 'ironic' are two nearly identical words, with the primary difference being that the former is a noun and the latter is a verb. According to the Miriam-Webster dictionary, one of the definitions for 'ironic' is: 1 : relating to, containing, or constituting irony.

The situations in Alanis's song are what's known as 'coincidence' or 'unfortunate coincidence'.

Irony, it is not.