Veg*ns vs partial veg*ns: sarcasm as a disidentification strategy

31 May 2024
Room D1

Veg*ns vs partial veg*ns: sarcasm as a disidentification strategy

The discourse surrounding veg*ns and partial-veg*ns is marked by controversy, discrimination, and profound ideological exploration. Specifically, while omnivores discriminate against veg*ns, these latter often demonstrate bias against individuals who gradually or partially transition away from consuming animal products without fully embracing veg*n ideals. Recent research undertaken by the author examining the influence of social media in facilitating the identification of shared interests among like-minded individuals and mirroring the social discrimination and inequalities present in offline reality, delved into the intricate facets of veg*n and partial-veg*n identity and revealed a use of irony and sarcasm by the former group towards the latter.

Drawing from these preliminary observations, and by employing a comprehensive pragmatic approach that integrates established theories and frameworks (Brown & Levinson, 1987; Camp, 2012; Culpeper, 1996), the study will be conducted through the analysis of a substantial corpus comprising 3,807 comments in English posted in response to Brian Kateman’s TEDx Talk titled “Ending the Battle between Vegans, Vegetarians, and Everyone Else.” The corpus will undergo meticulous scrutiny to identify instances of irony and sarcasm, which will then be categorized according to Attardo’s (2002) list of functions – encompassing group affiliation, sophistication, evaluation, politeness, persuasive aspect, and retractability – to learn whether and how irony and sarcasm function in assisting veg*ns to disidentify themselves from partial-veg*ns. Results show that veg*ns frequently use irony to underscore the perceived mediocrity of partial veg*ns’ ethical approach to food, and this ironic tone extends to terms created specifically for denoting practices associated with partial veg*nism.



Attardo, S. (2002). Humor and irony in interaction: From mode adoption to failure of detection. In Say not to say: New perspectives on miscommunication (pp. 159–179). IOS Press.

Brown, P., & Levinson, S. C. (1987). Politeness: Some universals in language usage (pp. xiv, 345). Cambridge University Press.

Camp, E. (2012). Sarcasm, Pretense, and The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction*. Noûs, 46(4), 587–634.

Culpeper, J. (1996). Towards an anatomy of impoliteness. Journal of Pragmatics, 25(3), 349–367.