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A colleague described a situation (or maybe something a person said in that situation) as "sarcastic," but it didn't really make sense. I asked if she meant "ironic," and she said yes, they're the same word in Chinese, which I found really interesting.

I don't know any Chinese. Can someone describe in English how the 2 notions are connected by one word?

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    The difference between sarcasm and irony is hard to understand even for native English speakers. (This came up in this question about Chinese humor.)
    – Becky 李蓓
    Sep 15 at 22:40
  • I normally used 讽凉 for sarcasm. Sep 17 at 2:10
  • That's because 刺 has too much an element of "to attack", like 刺客, (an assassin), whereas "sarcasm" is more subtle, even "playful" Sep 17 at 2:18

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Both irony and sarcasm have the ingredient of something happening which is the opposite of what is expected, a twist in a plot, if you will. Sarcasm is using irony to mock, or show contempt. They are not the exact same thing in English, but the ideas are somewhat related. For them to be rendered the same expression in a different language is not all that far-fetched.

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    I agree, A sarcastic comment is a mocky with irony; an ironic result is an unexpected but natural outcome within the logic. e.g. The goal of killing sparrows in China was to protect the crop so the people would not go hungry, but the ironic fact was, with most of the sparrows gone, the pest that the sparrows should have eaten multiplied uncontrollably, destroyed China's agriculture the next year and caused a famine
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 16 at 20:39
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"sarcastic" and "ironic" both are expressing ridicule (讽刺/嘲笑) but with different manners.

"sarcastic" - Expressing ridicule using sarcasm (a witty language used to convey insults or scorn, esp. saying one thing but implying the opposite.

"ironic" - Humorously sarcastic or mocking.

While there is no shortage of "sarcastic expressions", "ironic expression" is rather a new concept in Chinese culture.

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I should say, they are similar in Chinese. Actually, you can use another a little more accuracy idiom 阴阳怪气 to express ironic, and 挖苦 to express sarcastic, although in Chinese, 阴阳怪气 and 挖苦 are all included in 讽刺。

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    阴阳怪气 and "ironic" are NOT the same at all.
    – monalisa
    Sep 16 at 23:33
  • @monalisa this is copied from Oxford dictionary about the meaning of "ironic": showing that you really mean the opposite of what you are saying; expressing irony. This is copied from a Chinese dictionary: 说话带讥讽意味的冷冰冰的,从侧面或反面说辛辣嘲讽的话. It is very hard to find out absolutely same meaning words in different languages. Obviously, 阴阳怪气 is included in 讽刺 and closer to "Ironic" than 讽刺。So, could you please tell me what is your point of "not same at all"?
    – Havier
    Sep 17 at 0:49
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    阴阳怪气 describes how a voice sounds but it doesn't indicate the emotion behind it. Actually, calling someone 阴阳怪气 implies that person's gender is unclear。东方不败的言行举止就是典型的阴阳怪气
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 17 at 2:40
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    @Havier Very similar to what Tang Ho wrote above. 阴阳怪气 describes a manner of speech, whereas irony is about the content of what is said. They don't even belong to the same part of speech. You can use 阴阳怪气 (a strange, androgynous voice) to express sarcasm, irony, or anything else.
    – monalisa
    Sep 17 at 4:15
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    @Havier Quote: "I am Chinese native speaker." -- It is not a sound argument, I've seen too many English native speakers who couldn't compose grammatical sentences. I am a native Chinese too, I don't count on people taking my words as facts just for that. I want them to listen to my logic and reasoning and be convinced. I am not saying your Chinese is bad, I am just saying you are wrong in this case
    – Tang Ho
    Sep 18 at 21:57

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