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27 Aug 2014, 7:34 am

I'm a very sarcastic NT person. My husband is Aspie. We dated for 5 years before he knew I was a sarcastic person - which leads me to wonder how many times he thought I might be crazy.

The more I browse here on the forum, the more I read about how difficult it is for Aspies to interpret sarcasm. I'm very interested in this topic, I guess because I'm an extremely sarcastic NT married to an Aspie. I found an article that I am going to paste here (because I'm still new/haven't yet made five legitimate posts and therefore can't simply post the link):

Understanding and Learning Sarcasm

Most of the time, when you say something sarcastic, the person that you're speaking to understands your intention. But how? Since they can't rely on the words for the message, listeners pick up on other cues. When we say something sarcastic, we often use a very specific tone of voice. Important elements of spoken sarcasm include intonation, or how you vary the pitch of your voice, and stress, or how you emphasize certain words.

When English speakers express sarcasm with the word "Thanks!", they often use a nasal tone. Some researchers say that this nasal tone shows a connection between sarcasm and extreme disgust, to the point where the speaker is "expelling something nauseating" and he or she wants to remove it not only from the mouth but also from the nose" [source: Haiman].

Sarcasts of all languages use what Haiman calls inverse pitch obtrusion. This occurs when the speaker pitches a stressed syllable lower than the other words in the sentence. Take our weather example from the last section:


Pitch: High

Great weather, huh?


Pitch: Low

Great weather, huh?

The pitch of the word "great" in this sentence changes depending on whether you're being sincere or sarcastic. A sarcast might also stress the word "great" heavily, to show that it's anything but great.

We also express sarcasm by elongating our words ("Well, excuuuuuse me!") or saying words that normally express excitement in a very flat or apathetic way, such as "Wow." or "Yay." Finally, we might express sarcasm by using a sing-song melody, such as in "sor-eeee!"

Even if you didn't pick up on any of these vocal cues, you might be able to tell when someone is being sarcastic by context. If you spend most of a conversation talking about how terrible your mother is at gift giving, and then end with "I just loved my birthday sweater," listeners will probably know that you didn't care for it at all. Finally, you can often tell a sarcast by his facial expression -- usually one of disgust, irritation or apathy.

Sarcasm exists in many languages other than English; in fact, speakers of many foreign languages even use the same types of indicators that we do in English. Haiman points to examples in Italian, German, Japanese and Mandarin.

So most adults can pick up on these cues to infer sarcasm, but what about children? Researchers disagree on exactly when children begin to infer sarcasm: Some believe that younger children mainly tell sarcasm by the context, while intonation comes into play with older children. Others believe the opposite.

A study of French-speaking children in 2005 showed that the younger children (age 5) understood sarcasm when the speaker used a sarcastic intonation, while the older children (over the age of 7) could tell sarcasm simply by the context [source: Laval]. When children don't successfully interpret a statement as sarcastic, they sometimes interpret it as a lie, especially when the only cue is contextual. As of yet, there is no one age when children understand sarcasm; in some studies, children as young as 3 years old could tell when someone was being sarcastic.

Some people, regardless of age, never understand sarcasm. Autistic people, for example, may have difficulty understanding sarcasm because they can't grasp the complex relationship between language, intention and context. Problems with understanding sarcasm may also have to do with lesions in the brain or brain damage.

A 2005 study in Neuropsychology concluded that three areas of the brain are responsible for our understanding of sarcasm: the language cortex in the left hemisphere, the frontal lobes and right hemisphere and the right ventromedial prefrontal cortex. When you hear a sarcastic statement, the language cortex understands its literal meaning. Then the frontal lobes and right hemisphere infer its context. Last, the right ventromedial prefontal cortex put the two together and interprets the statement as sarcasm.

In the next section, we'll look at the history of sarcasm in literature.

To give credit where credit is due, I should add this is from a "HowStuffWorks" website under "sarcasm"

I thought this might be helpful in some ways. Specifically, the explanation about the tone and pitch of sarcastic comments might be helpful. Granted, I realize that when it talks about reading facial expressions, that may not be very helpful (especially without examples?) What do you all think?

Would this type of explanation be more helpful if it was accompanied by audio/images - that is, an audio example of the sincere "thank you" and the sarcastic "thank you," and pictures of expressions? Or no?

I appreciate any input.


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27 Aug 2014, 1:55 pm

I offer this as an observation, not a law.
Here again, men and women are different. (strange idea, huh?)

I find that women tend to think sarcasm is funny.
Men don't get the joke.
I find that men tend to see sarcasm from (esp. from other men) as precursors to battle and it pisses them off like crazy.
Waving 'red' at a bull.

I find that men tend to think overt personal insults as funny/bonding.
(Hey, ya big bastard, how'zit hangin! Hey, ya f*kkin b*tch, lets go already. F*ck you Dingleberry, or flipping others the bird instead of waving, that kinda locker room crap)
Women don't seem to fully appreciate this kind of male humor/bonding.
It tends to piss them off like crazy.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I bloody well know that "not all women..." and "not all men..." anything -so don't bother pointing that out for the millionth time. thanque!)

(14.01.b) Been there; Done that; and wow am I embarrassed.
Our Project-

What's wrong with Humans? ... troduction


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27 Aug 2014, 3:52 pm

If he could stand you for 5 years it looks like either he doesn't mind your "craziness" or he gets your style of sarcasm.

Personally I don't have problem with sarcasm as long as the one speaking really changes his tone of voice to sarcastic one (there is specific voice modulation at sarcasm, everything gets enhanced - even I learned to use it). But some people say something sarcastic using a tone very similar to normal one - thats confusing.

Most of the time I can also get the sarcasm because of context. At times someone says something using a voice that sounds normal to me but my mind ticks "he can't really mean it, thats illogical". I either ask for clarification or suppose it was a sarcasm then.

Tufted Titmouse
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28 Aug 2014, 4:19 pm

I do not know the circumstances of your interactions with your husband, so I do not know your intentions in using sarcasm. It can, though, be rather hurtful to some people. Sometimes, people use sarcasm when angry and/or to insult someone. Whether people pretend it is playful banter or not, it's important to know the speaker's intention before putting up with it and/or reciprocating. I prefer playful puns, although a round of Shakesperian insults (or Monty Python quotations) can also start us guffawing. :D



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28 Aug 2014, 10:14 pm

Well, I don't normally change the tone in my voice when I'm sarcastic. Most people don't tend to catch my sarcasm and only a small handful can catch it regularly. I only change my tone when people ask if I'm being sarcastic in order to emphasis, which tends to confuse them further.

I find that most of the people who tend to get confused by my sarcasm are women. From this observation, I might alter your theory a smidgen to say that men and women apply sarcasm differently into their speech and that a man's sarcasm tends to be more subtle. I have observed this in others too. I have noticed that those who are best at sarcasm also tend to be those who are calmer people who don't engage in histrionics, this is true in both men and women.

This guide is very helpful, but I'm not going to change my ways because I like it when people don't know if I'm being sarcastic.

Edit: I might also note that I'm not very good at catching other people's sarcasm if they don't make obvious tone changes. But, if you look at other people around you, you might see them getting it. It's hard to tell.


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17 Jul 2020, 1:31 am

Bump because of something that happened to me today. Does anyone else have this thing where they immediately guess that something is sarcastic, but they second-guess themselves? This is more my anxiety speaking instead of my autism, but for some reason, I am beating myself up for not being 100% sure the person was being sarcastic, if that makes sense. I guess I'm just scarred from when I was a teenager who didn't know banter was a thing until they were 14 going and 15 and acted years younger in general.

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17 Jul 2020, 4:59 am

I don't know if it is related to sarcasm, but I have a neighbour who only works by using the hint system and I have been in her bad books so many times. For example she will say "The grass is long". I will look and say "Yes it is" and think nothing of it. I will go back home puzzled as to why she was talking about the length of her grass. Then a few weeks later someone cuts it for her and I say "You have had your grass cut and it looks nice" and she would get angry at me and say "I have asked and asked and asked you to cut it, and I had to pay someone to do it because you didn't". I would be rather hurt and surprized. Now I have had years of this and she never talks straight. The problem is the mental stress of many such things like this on ,e has made is so I can no longer do things like this, though I do admit that her grass is several acres on a steep slope, and we no longer have a cutting deck working on our old John Deere.
Now many times I am in her bad books and she complains to neighbours about me putting me in a bad light even though I don't know what it is I was supposed to have done or not done!
And it is all based on her office methods of communication are not compatible with the ways I use to communicate. She is an ex. office worker who worked for our local athority. The problem is, they used to get things done through manipulating people. (It is how it was in the enviroment where she worked). The methods used don't work with me in the same way as I can be confused and think "Why did they say that?" and I ignore it thinking they are a little crazy!

But anyway. I can get some forms of sarcasm, but not always, and I also sometimes use sarcasm to be funny but less so now because when I used caracsm it confused people as they thought I was being serious. Somehow when I do it it does not have the same effect?
One tning I have been told is that I have a dry sense of humour, but I don't have a clue what this actually means? Do others have wet sense of humours? Uhmmm.

Do I spell sarcasm right. I usually use a z instead of the s, so I have changed them to s.

As I write this, I am not 100% sure if I am on the spectrum or not, but I do know that these hidden communication forms are not easy to pick up on, and so many times in the past others have told me things like "Why didn't you ask her out? She was flirting with you!" I never knew! I thought they were just being friendly. But also, some who were being friendly in the past were offended when I was brave and I did ask them out (Very rare for me as I learnt not to risk asking as I can't tell the difference).

Awaiting asessment. Neurodiverse 173/200. Neurotypical 21/200. Empathy 11/80. AQ 39. ... s/shutdown

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