Dr Eleni Kapogianni

Lecturer in Linguistics


Dr Eleni Kapogianni received her PhD from the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics of the University of Cambridge in 2013. Her PhD thesis, funded by the Greek State Scholarship Foundation I.K.Y., was a definitional and typological investigation of the phenomenon of verbal irony, with respect to the literal-nonliteral distinction. 

Before joining the Department of English Language and Linguistics in September 2013, Eleni taught at the University of Cambridge and the University of Leeds in the areas of semantics, (experimental) pragmatics, discourse analysis, and language acquisition.

Eleni co-ordinates the project “Humor and Critical Literacy”, which aims to promote teaching practices that develop students’ critical skills and social awareness.

Eleni is also the Director of the Centre for Language and Linguistics (CLL), a centre which promotes interdisciplinary collaboration in linguistic research and hosts a guest lecture series attracting national and international contributors. Within the activities of the centre, she co-organises the Interdisciplinary Research and Reading Group “Discourse, Power, and Society”, which focuses on - but is not limited to- the framework of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA).

Research interests

Eleni's main research lies in the areas of pragmatics, discourse analysis, and their various interfaces. She is particularly interested in nonliteral language in discourse, especially verbal irony, parody/satire, and humour. 

Key questions of her research concern the scope of irony, the interaction between irony, sarcasm, and politeness in different discourse settings, and the factors that influence the strength of inferential meaning. She also works on issues concerning intercultural communication, considering both universal and culture-specific characteristics of nonliteral language (irony and humour in particular). 

Additional interests (and areas of potential supervision) include metaphor, lying, deception (especially in the language of politics), conflict/aggression and impoliteness.


Eleni teaches semantics, pragmatics and research skills.



  • Kapogianni, E. (2018). Ironic implicature strength and the test of explicit cancellability. Intercultural Pragmatics [Online] 15:1-27. Available at: http://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2017-0028.
    In this paper, the Gricean notion of explicit cancellability (Grice 1975, 19781) is used as a
    testable characteristic, able to indicate different degrees of strength for different types of
    (ironic) implicatures. According to the definition adopted for this analysis, implicature
    strength is determined by the likelihood of retrieval of an implicature in a specific context
    and, essentially, by the degree of certainty that the hearer maintains about the correctness of
    the inferred interpretation. Ironic implicature strength is considered to be the product of
    various factors (“factors of implicature strength”), some of which are always present (such as
    the type and strength of assumptions on which a derivation is based) while others are optional
    and appear in tandem with specific irony strategies. Irony strategies are categorised into two
    general types (meaning reversal and meaning replacement), which are expected to show
    different degrees of implicature strength, being influenced by different factors. For the
    experimental testing of the hypotheses, subjects were presented with the task of judging the
    acceptability of the explicit cancellation of various implicated (ironic, as well as non-ironic)
    meanings. Findings show significant differences between irony types in terms of
    cancellability (measured as acceptability of cancellation – AC), under the influence of (i) type
    of syllogism and associated assumptions, (ii) co-textual cues, and (iii) humorous framing.
  • Kapogianni, E. (2016). The Ironist's Intentions: Communicative Priority and Manifestness. Pragmatics and Cognition [Online] 23:150-173. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1075/pc.23.1.07kap.
    This paper examines the ironic speaker's intentions, drawing distinctions on the basis of two criteria: communicative priority (primary – secondary communicative intentions) and manifestness (overt – subtle – mixed – covert). It is argued that these provide useful insights into the widely discussed categories of speaker's intentions (e.g. a priori versus post facto intentions, private i-intentions versus shared we-intentions). First of all, " ironic meaning " is viewed as comprising a set of different types of meaning, including a bundle of implicatures that can be hierarchically ranked in terms of both communicative priority and inferential priority. Secondly, examples of different degrees of manifestness of the ironist's intentions are discussed in light of the communicative complexities of irony, which is viewed as a higher-order phenomenon. The final discussion attempts to bring together the analyses of the speaker's and the hearer's perspectives, contributing to a dynamic model of ironic discourse.
  • Kapogianni, E. (2015). The ironic operation: revisiting the components of ironic meaning. Journal of Pragmatics [Online] 91:16-28. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2015.11.001.
    This paper sheds more light on the way in which irony functions at the
    semantics/pragmatics interface by teasing apart three components of the ironic operation:
    the vehicle, the input, and the output. Focusing on the logical relationship between the
    expressed and the intended meaning of the ironic utterance, several real instantiations of
    the phenomenon are discussed and it is demonstrated that the vehicle (i.e. the unit of
    meaning that is used in an ironic way, thus carrying the ironic intent) does not always
    coincide with the input (i.e. the unit of meaning on which irony operates). The input to the
    ironic operation is thus shown to be of three kinds: (a) part of the vehicle, (b) triggered by
    the vehicle, or (c) discourse-dependent. The final discussion highlights the advantages of
    viewing irony as an operation rather than an act of mention or dissociation from the content
    of the utterance.
  • Kapogianni, E. (2014). Differences in Use and Function of Verbal Irony between Real and Fictional Discourse: (Mis)interpretation and Irony Blindness. Humor [Online] 27:597-618. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/humor-2014-0093.
    This paper presents a contrastive approach to the presence of two distinct types of verbal irony in real (natural, unscripted) versus fictional (scripted) discourse, with a special focus on irony blindness, i.e. the inability to recognize ironic utterances. Irony strategies are categorized into two general types, based on the relationship between the expressed and the intended meaning (Type 1: meaning reversal and Type 2: meaning replacement). First, the differences between these two types are discussed in terms of use, interpretation, and misinterpretation. It is found that the first type of irony strongly prevails in natural discourse, while the second type is considerably more present in fictional discourse than it is in natural discourse. At the same time, the first type of irony appears to be more at risk of misinterpretation in natural discourse, as opposed to the second type, which seems to be a safer (even though less frequently selected) option. These findings are then further analyzed in light of the discussion concerning fictional (comedic, in particular) irony blindness and the construction and role of the irony blind characters. Interestingly, the causes of fictional irony blindness are found to correlate more strongly with the (more humorous) misinterpretation of the second type of irony.

Book section

  • Michelioudakis, D. and Kapogianni, E. (2013). Ethical Datives: A Puzzle for Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics, and Their Interfaces. in: Folli, R., Sevdali, C. and Truswell, R. eds. Syntax and its Limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kapogianni, E. (2011). Graded Salience Effects on Irony Production and Interpretation. in: Allan, K. and Jaszczolt, K. M. eds. Salience and Defaults in Utterance Processing. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Kapogianni, E. (2011). Irony via “Surrealism”. in: Dynel, M. ed. The Pragmatics of Humour across Discourse Domains. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing, pp. 51-68.
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