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For example: my grandmother went to university and learnt to speak RP; I went to university and picked up her cockney drawl.

Or: I was searching for a book on the internet and when I found it, it turned out that it my next door neighbour was selling it.

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The RP in the first example refers to received pronunciation. I'm not sure how you get from RP to cockney drawl though! –  spiceyokooko Jan 12 '13 at 16:21
    
What's unironic about those two examples? –  Jon Hanna Jan 12 '13 at 16:28
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1 Answer 1

I believe this is situational irony.

Wikipedia says this “describes a discrepancy between the expected result and actual results in a certain situation,” and gives a couple of examples:

  • When John Hinckley attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan, all of his shots initially missed the President; however, a bullet ricocheted off the bullet-proof Presidential limousine and struck Reagan in the chest. Thus, a vehicle made to protect the President from gunfire instead directed gunfire to the president.
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a story whose plot revolves around situational irony. Dorothy travels to a wizard and fulfills his challenging demands to go home, before discovering she had the ability to go back home all the time. The Scarecrow longs for intelligence, only to discover he is already a genius, and the Tin Woodsman longs to be capable of love, only to discover he already has a heart. The Lion, who at first appears to be a whimpering coward, turns out to be bold and fearless. The people in Emerald City believed the Wizard to be a powerful deity, only to discover that he is a bumbling, eccentric old man with no special powers at all.

Your examples mimic these: in the first, you might have been expected to return with a cut-glass accent but did not; in the second, the book might have been expected to have been located on the other side of the world, but was rather closer to home.

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I think the first example could easily be ironic, but the second, as it's phrased, is likely just a coincidence. –  tylerharms Jan 12 '13 at 14:09
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Irony is one of the most difficult rhetorical devices to define and provide examples for. –  Andrew Leach Jan 12 '13 at 14:13
    
I agree that the Hinckley example is better than the Oz example, but I think any real-world example would be better than a fictional one, because a fictional example (like O. Henry's Gift of the Magi) is bound to seem more like literary irony, due to the source. But if that's not a good example, the fault would rest on the person who wrote the Wikipedia article, not on the one who's quoting it. –  J.R. Jan 12 '13 at 15:33
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