What makes a person sarcastic


As sarcasm is called acrid, bitter mockery or mockery, which often attacks the personal characteristics of the person being mocked. Accordingly, it is a matter of consciously ridiculing a person, a group or their values. In literature, sarcasm usually takes the form of satire or polemics. In ancient times, sarcasm was considered a figure of speech and can therefore be considered a stylistic device of rhetoric. Sarcasm can be expressed through direct naming of what is meant, or indirectly through irony. The figure of speech is related to ridicule, cynicism and irony.

The term can be derived from the Greek (σαρκασμός ~ sarkasmós) derive and with Mangling as well as with biting ridicule translate. Accordingly, the translation of the word already refers to what is fundamentally about: namely, a mockery, that is, ridicule that literally tears the other person apart [and attacks him personally]. Let's look at an example to illustrate this.

A chubby lady presents her new dress in the office.
“Wasn't the dress your size?” Calls out a colleague.

In the example above the overweight woman is sarcastically handled by her colleague. We can tell by the fact that the statement makes the chubby woman look ridiculous and mocks her because of her personal and physical characteristics. A benevolent person might have lied and complimented her nonetheless, although a good friend might have pointed out that the dress was tight and uncomfortable. However, the colleague is sarcastic and bitterly refers to the excess weight of women.

There are numerous examples from everyday life which primarily aim at the appearance of the mocked. However, sarcasm can also ridicule the values, actions or attitudes of a person or group and is also often combined with irony. The ironic means that the speaker expresses something, whereby he means exactly the opposite of what is expressed. An example:

The boss sees a worker who is sitting idle at his desk.
“Don't overwork yourself, Mr. Meier!” She says to him.

In this example, irony and sarcasm coincide. It is ironic that the boss wants to express exactly the opposite when she alludes to the fact that Mr. Meier should not overwork himself. To recognize this irony, a common knowledge between the two is required because otherwise it can be misunderstood. Since you usually work at work and don't rest, both of you know that the boss means the opposite of what has been said.

The statement is sarcastic because because Mr. Meier is also ridiculed, i.e. ridiculed, when the boss indirectly points out that he is not working, i.e. lazing around. Accordingly, she brings the expression that he is lazy, whereby the whole thing makes a personal characteristic of the person addressed ridiculous. Thus the example shows a form of ironic sarcasm. Finally an explanatory video:

Difference: Irony, sarcasm and cynicism

If the sarcastic was recognized in the statement, it quickly becomes apparent that there is a proximity to cynicism and irony. But even if the three terms are related and partly similar, they can still be distinguished. Therefore we would like to show the differences.

  • Irony: As a rhetorical stylistic device, it primarily refers to the fact that something is expressed by the opposite. It is important here that it is clear to the recipient that this is how it is behaving. Otherwise the ironic will be misunderstood. So a common knowledge that the utterance is ironic is necessary. Irony uses the technique of meaning reversal and is a means of expressing something.

  • Sarcasm: Denotes biting mockery or mockery. Sarcasm can be expressed ironically when the opposite is said. However, it can also be completely free of irony. Sarcasm is - as opposed to irony - not a technique, but an intention of the statement. This should clearly mock and ridicule the recipient. What is meant here can be expressed directly or indirectly.

  • Cynicism: In contrast to irony and sarcasm, describes a kind of state of mind. Cynicism is not a technique, it is a way of life. A cynic rejects central norms and morals of society and makes them look ridiculous. Cynicism is one of those traits. Anyone who ridicules other people's values ​​is deliberately violating and mocking them. However, cynical remarks can be sarcastic and ironic, which is why it is difficult to differentiate in individual cases.

Sarcasm as a stylistic device

Since sarcasm is designed to ridicule another person or group, it's hard to pinpoint it clearly as an artful rhetorical device. After all, making ridiculous is in the foreground, which is why the skill of the language sometimes takes a back seat.

However, just like irony, sarcasm can come across as weird and can therefore be a form of humor. A sarcastic utterance can use the stylistic device of irony to unfold, but it can also directly name a situation. If we are dealing with the latter variant, i.e. a direct attack, the sarcastic is usually not stylistically valuable.

However, this can of course have an effect. If the speaker succeeds in making his interlocutor ridiculous with a sarcastic utterance, this can overshadow the actual argumentation and of the recipient (Reader, listener, viewer) can definitely be seen as a victory in terms of speech. However, if the mockery is not presented in a sophisticated manner, it can have the opposite effect.

Brief overview: The most important thing about the term at a glance
  • Sarcasm is bitter, acrid mockery and scorn. The mockery means that a person or group is ridiculed because of certain characteristics. Hence, a sarcastic utterance is usually hurtful and aimed at humiliating the person.
  • Sarcasm can be expressed directly and indirectly. If he is direct, he clearly names the feature that he is making ridiculous. If it is indirect, the stylistic device of irony is often used. Here the opposite is said of what is actually meant, whereby the recipient is (Reader, viewer) is aware of the ironic undertone.
  • The effect of a sarcastic utterance cannot be clearly stated. For the addressee, the statement is hurtful and humiliating, while other people may perceive the statement as funny or humorous. However, the line cannot be clearly drawn.

  • Note: Very often sarcasm, irony and cynicism are mixed up in common parlance. However, there are features to distinguish the individual terms, even if a separation is not clear in every case or would not be possible.