I am not going into the use of nominative and objective pronouns again, even though the Olympic broadcasters of NBC do not seem to understand their usage. What I will do is attack one of my biggest aggravations: the use of the word ironic. True irony is rare. There are three kinds of irony: dramatic, situational, and verbal. The one addressed most often is situational . . . or it seems. Before I get into the explanation, let’s take a look at the definition of situational irony: the disparity of intention and result; when the result of an action is contrary to the desired or expected effect. The biggest mistake people make is confusing irony with coincidence. For example, a few years ago a song by Alanis Morisette hit the airwaves entitled “Ironic.” Here is a smidgen of that song about coincidence:
It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought… it figures
A traffic jam when you’re already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think…
It is a coincidence when it rains on your wedding day. But if you move the wedding inside to avoid the rain and the fire sprinklers accidentally come on during the ceremony, that is irony. A free ride when you’ve already paid just sucks. But if your dad owns the park and an attendant makes you pay, that is ironic. If you’re in a traffic jam when you’re already late is coincidence. But if you are the city planner of traffic control and movement and you’re caught in a traffic jam, that is ironic. Well, you get the picture.
Situational irony is cool when it happens. Again, I believe that people say it just thinking that it adds a bit of intelligence to the sentence. “Bill, isn’t it ironic that the American snowboarder’s dad was also a great downhill skier?” No, it is not, Mr. Broadcaster. The young man’s dad loves to ski, and one day he impregnated a woman; that child became an Olympic snowboarder. What is ironic about that? Now, if Kanye West were to marry a “gold digger” that would be . . . wait, what?
And don’t even get me started on the word surreal!