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Satiric news is often controversial by challenging current politicians. Consider online satiric newspaper The Daily Mash’s attack on Brexit supporters: “Can we please hurry up and commit economic suicide? ask Brexit Tories”. This headline uses metaphor (Brexit as economic suicide), hyperbole (hurrying towards suicide) and irony (ironic use of ‘please’). Moreover, a key genre characteristic is that satiric news is inherently ironic, and, thereby, inherently figurative.


As academic research has paid little attention to language in inherently figurative genres, we do not yet know how figurative language in satiric news is used across media to construct criticism, and which kinds of figurative language lead to which responses in which people. We will conduct a comprehensive and systematic investigation of language use and effects in satiric news across media and combine methods and insights from communication studies and linguistics in three subprojects. Sub-project 1 (PI) establishes whether an inherently ironic genre like satiric news functions similarly across online vs. offline media and modalities (textual, audiovisual). Through multiple methods sub-project 2 (PhD1) studies the linguistic features and communicative impact of satire across media. Also through multiple methods, sub-project 3 (PhD2) investigates the use and cognitive processing of figurative language and figurative images in satiric news. 


Taken together, this project presents an integrative picture of satiric news in contemporary society. This knowledge informs societal debates on satire (freedom of speech vs. responsibilities of individual satirists) and offers a new approach to studying inherently figurative genres from an interdisciplinary, multiple-methods approach.

CoPolSat (2018-2023) has been funded by VIDI grant 276-45-005 from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), awarded to prof. dr. Christian Burgers. This project builds on the NWO/VENI project ‘Figurative Framing’ (2014-2018), awarded to prof. dr. Christian Burgers.

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