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Ironic Comments in the Public Discourse of Russian Diplomats

Abstract: The paper discusses the use of irony in modern public diplomatic discourse. The aim of the study is to describe the functions of irony in diplomatic communication and to show how ironic comments affect communication at the international level. The research is based on the speeches by Russian diplomats and official representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, as well as their publications and comments in social networks. Diplomatic discourse is carried out on the basis of diplomatic protocol and, ideally, should follow the requirements of explicitness, argumentativeness, and minimal emotionality. At the same time, an important property of this sphere of communication is competitiveness (agonality), which is associated with defending the interests of the state on the international level and manifests itself in the explicit competition of various points of view. The study suggests that in modern diplomatic discourse, there are frequent cases of deviations from the diplomatic protocol, when speakers use irony as a way of expressing an implicit critical assessment. Irony accompanies explicit critical assessments of events or actions of diplomats of other states and, as a rule, appears where there is an aggravation of international relations. Tactics used by the speakers to create irony make it easy for the addressee to recognize it. Since the purpose of ironic comments is to show the inconsistency of the opponents’ position, irony allows the speaker not only to express critical assessment of their statements or actions, but also to demonstrate the superiority of the stated point of view on events. Alternatively, it can be a sign of disappointment due to a diplomatic loss. In the context of intercultural communication at the state level, irony violates not only the requirements of diplomatic protocol, but also the principle of politeness, so it can be viewed as an instrument of confrontational agonality, which does not imply a constructive dialogue.
Keywords: irony / ironic comments / diplomatic protocol / Russian / functions / discourse / explicit

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