Fake sympathy for a past event

What do you call it when you profess inauthentic sympathy for past behavior when that behavior has directly benefited you? Hypothetical Example: my family members from 175 years ago burned down some rival family’s house so that my family could build a house in that spot, and, 175 years later, I discover oil on that … Read more

‘Thank you’ has an exceptionally special place among ‘good’ words used as irony?

A. A. Milne, best known for his books about Winnie-the-Pooh, is much less noted as a prolific playwright of about forty plays. They are carefully crafted works that continue to entertain and delight readers and audiences of all ages in UK, but not in Japan. I have recently translated some of his plays into Japanese … Read more

Ironic phrase for something becoming more complicated specifically because of efforts to ‘simplify’ it?

My linguistic skills fail me and I’d like some advice. I have a project that currently works exactly as intended, short and sweet, yet a higher up has changed their mind and are asking for it to be done a certain way in order for it to match their concept of “simple”. Ironically, this is … Read more

Can dramatic irony function retrospectively?

Please do not read the following if you have never read Oedipus or are unfamiliar with the plot of the play, in case it spoils the reading for you: In Sophocles’ play Oedipus the King, the dramatic irony of much of Oedipus’ earlier words is not revealed until we learn from Teiresias that Oedipus is … Read more

Is it irony when you answer a question as though you’ve misunderstood it?

For example, your friend asks whether you’ve repaired the lawn mower. You respond as though your friend were referring to a hired hand who mows your lawn, saying something silly like, “He seems perfectly healthy to me.” Is that irony? I’ve always had trouble grasping the concept. Answer The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English … Read more

Grammar matters – explanation of example

I just stumbled over this from http://braythwayt.com/2015/05/04/grammar-matters.html : "I’d like to thank the employees of FormerCo, who made me feel that my contribution mattered." "I’d like to thank the employees of FormerCo who made me feel that my contribution mattered." One is a lovely tribute to a good company’s people. The other is a passive-aggressive … Read more