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Children as Young as Four Can Understand Irony

A study in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology suggests that very young children can understand ironic language. From the abstract:

Children's responses to others' ironic utterances were coded for their understanding of meaning and conversational function. Mothers were especially likely to ask rhetorical questions and to use ironic language in conflictual contexts. In contrast, fathers used hyperbole and understatement as frequently as rhetorical questions, and employed ironic language in both positive and conflictual contexts. Children also showed evidence of a nascent ability to use ironic language, especially hyperbole and rhetorical questions. Family members used rhetorical questions and understatement proportionately more often in a negative interaction context.


Link | Journal Article (payment required) | Photo by Flickr user adpk used under Creative Commons license

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