ironic/ambiguous parentheses

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mpatricksweeney

Senior Member
US (English)
Can anyone explain how/when we use "ironic" parentheses, such as in:

When disabled individuals are excluded and (dis)regarded as separate, we forfeit the possibility for true well-being in our communities.

Is this an appropriate usage?
How should (dis)regarded be understood? What's the reason for including (dis)?


I know it's a grammar question, but, as literate as WR readers are, I thought someone may be able to help.


Thanks.
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    It is not traditional grammar.
    What you should notice first is that "disregarded" would not be a good fit in the sentence: "individuals disregarded as separate" is not correct.
    The writer is stating, using this peculiar construction, that they are not only regarded ("seen") as separate, they are also disregarded.

    "When disabled individuals are excluded and regarded--if one can use that word for the way they are treated--as separate, we forfeit the possibility for true wellbeing in our communities."
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    I might say excluded and "regarded" as separate. This reminds me of the reports of terrorists claiming "responsibility" for some heinous act. What they have is irresponsibility in my opinion.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The grammar of the double reading interests me.

    "When disabled individuals are excluded and (dis)regarded as separate... "
    regard and disregard require two different readings of 'as separate".

    1) "regarded as separate" = "regarded (thought of) as being separate...."
    2) "disregarded as separate" = "disregarded (ignored) on the grounds that they are separate ...."​
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    When disabled individuals are excluded and disregarded as separate, we forfeit the possibility for true well-being in our communities.
    This sentence is painfully wordy (especially individuals, forfeit the possibility and true well-being) but I think it is grammatical: the disabled are excluded and disregarded because they are separate.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I don't think the writer intended that the full sentence should make sense with and without dis.
    To me, it reads much more as if the sentence at first did not have the (dis). The writer then was struck by the almost-conflict between excluded and regarded and in a moment of whimsy added (dis) to make a point.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    It is the case that this kind of word-play is currently fashionable in certain kind of academic writing. Another example I saw recently: "Eco in Fabula", the title of an article on Umberto Eco.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    It is the case that this kind of word-play is currently fashionable in certain kind of academic writing. Another example I saw recently: "Eco in Fabula", the title of an article on Umberto Eco.

    I agree with Cagey: I think this kind of visual word-play is currently quite fashionable. I'm not sure it's just in academic writing: emails also lend themselves to it, as it's a way of getting across a lot of meaning in relatively few keystrokes.

    Loob
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I agree with Cagey on both points (meaning and style). The writer is trying to make regarded do two jobs at once: one as it stands, without "(dis)", "regarded as separate" and two, parenthetically, with "(dis)", to say that disabled people are disregarded:

    "When disabled individuals are excluded and regarded as separate..." (the main run of the sentence)
    "(Disabled individuals are disregarded)" (parenthetical comment)

    I don't think there is irony here.
     

    Prairiefire

    Senior Member
    US (Midwest) - English
    I agree with Cagey: I think this kind of visual word-play is currently quite fashionable. I'm not sure it's just in academic writing...
    I'm sure I've seen wordplay like this in magazines and newspapers. I like it for its wit and economy.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    I agree with Cagey on both points (meaning and style). The writer is trying to make regarded do two jobs at once: one as it stands, without "(dis)", "regarded as separate" and two, parenthetically, with "(dis)", to say that disabled people are disregarded:

    "When disabled individuals are excluded and regarded as separate..." (the main run of the sentence)
    "(Disabled individuals are disregarded)" (parenthetical comment)

    I don't think there is irony here.
    emphasis added

    As happens often, MM has stated my ideas, more concisely and quickly than I could have.
     
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