Posts Tagged ‘Walking Slow’

A Lesson Plan Which Utilizes “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan to Highlight the Distinction Between Sarcasm and Verbal Irony

March 1, 2014

casm

Americans frequently use the term sarcasm to describe verbal irony.  This needs to stop.

Verbal Irony Definition: A speaker means something different than, often the opposite of, what she says.

Thus, verbal irony occurs when a speaker says what she DOESN’T mean.

Examples of verbal irony:

“Oh, great! It’s raining and I forgot my umbrella.”

 “I can’t wait to start writing these forty-seven reports.”

“My walk home was only twenty-three blocks.”

Sarcasm definition: the implementation of contemptuous language or verbal irony in order to mock or insult.

Sarcasm is often a subset of verbal of verbal irony which occurs when a speaker says what he DOESN’T mean with malicious intent.

Examples of sarcasm:

“I just love working with incompetent people.”

“You call this a cup of coffee?”

“I was hoping to encounter a competent sales clerk today.”

 Lesson Plans:

Step #1Teach this life-altering lesson on the three types of irony.

Step #2. Ask class to reiterate the difference between verbal irony and sarcasm.

Step #3. Have each student read aloud a line of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan.  (If you have less than thirty-two students, some lucky students will get to read two lines.  If you have more than thirty-two students, your students’ parents should sue the local school board.)

Step #4. Listen to the actual song.  (I like this version, but If you want to rock, try Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan together.)

Step #5. Ask students if they have ever said mean and angry things to someone during a romantic breakup.  Ask them why anyone would ever want to hurt someone with whom he has shared a special part of his life.  (You will probably get some interesting answers.)

Step #6. Number students off into groups of no more than three.  Instruct each group to list at least six examples of sarcasm from the song and explain their answers.

Step #7. Collect student work and review it as a whole-class activity.

Additional lyrics that can be used to discuss verbal irony:

Consider the following lines from “Troublemaker” by Weezer

I’m such a mystery
As anyone can see
There isn’t anybody else
Exactly quite like me
And when it’s party time
Like 1999
I’ll party by myself because I’m such a special guy

Also, there are some lovely examples of verbal irony in the song “Walking Slow” by Jackson Browne.  See if your class can spot them.

by Richard W. Bray