反讽( irony) 是一种十分常见的语言现象。据统计，在流行的电视访谈节目中，平均半小时出现4 例反讽；如每天看两小时电视，一年可听到5800 例；此外，在英美文学作品中，平均每4 页就有一例反讽。
下面我们将以 “Beyond Vietnam---A Time to Break Silence”的第二段为例，分析反讽的作用。
Adapted from Martin Luther King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam---A Time to Break Silence.” The speech was delivered at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967.
Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportion relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.
Here he lays outthe “cruel irony” of the next sentence with the geographical juxtaposition of Southeast Asia with the U.S. areas of Georgia and East Harlem, with which his audience might identify. Young black men are traveling to an alien land to fight for liberties they are denied at home. They are “crippled” before they enter the battlefield.
Again the two races have found a bond, but unlike the “shining moment” of the poverty program, the language here is stark and horrifying. They now “kill and die together” and join “in brutal solidarity” in carrying out atrocities.
Martin Luther King Jr.uses strong and meaningful irony toreason as to why the government is fighting an unjust war.
His first irony is thatin Vietnam they are fighting for guaranteed liberties for others when in their own home there is still a large portion of the population that does not have these liberties. Also, without any reservation, King points to the cruel irony that the Negro and white boys die together in unity for an unstable notion whereas they cannot even sit in the same classroom back home.
This is a powerful ironic reasoning to support his argument because it makes the readersin America really think about how the country can go to war to solve a problem that they cannot solve by simply manipulating the poor.
此处，马丁路德金反战的坚定跃然纸上。就像这样，反讽的功能, 在于可以避免作者以过于武断、直接的方式，把自己的态度和观点强加给读者, 反而，可以以一种曲径通幽、暗香浮动的方式，更为智慧地将作者的态度隐含于曲折的陈述中，让读者心领神会。