In recent years, an increasingly large body of research has examined the common situation in which one thing is said in order to express another. Although research has examined the understanding of figurative language such as metaphor in some depth, sarcasm has been less studied. Understanding sarcasm requires considering social and cultural factors, which are often ignored in models of language. We report diverse experiments that point to the same conclusions: Sarcastic interpretation occurs early in processing, with gender and social-cultural factors associated with class playing an important role. These data support interactive models of nonliteral language processing, in which social and cultural factors serve as early-acting constraints on interpretation.
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