Sometimes I get a song stuck in my head for days. I listen to it over and over and can’t stop humming it throughout the day. Lately, I’ve been listening to the song “Yeah Right” by Toro y Moi, a recording artist who lives in Berkeley, California. He has released albums in several different musical styles, from electronica to indie rock. The name Toro y Moi is a blend of Spanish and French. Toro means ‘bull’ in Spanish and moi is French for ‘me’, so the name translates to “The Bull and I”.
Non-native English speakers might also find the title of the song interesting. “Yeah Right” is a good example of sarcasm, which is saying the opposite of what you mean to show that you’re irritated. At first, the phrase “Yeah Right” seems like an agreement. However, given the lyrics of the song it’s actually expressing disbelief. For example, if you have a friend who is always late and they promise to meet you for dinner at exactly 6:00 PM, you might respond “Yeah, right.”
The phrase “That’s just what I need” works in a similar way. If you have to print out a report for a meeting and you run out of ink, you might groan and say, “That’s just what I need.” to express your frustration. Of course, if someone hands you a new ink cartridge, you might also say “That’s just what I need!” but your tone of voice would sound completely different.
The difference can be hard to understand, especially in writing where you have to rely on context. It’s much easier to tell if someone is being sarcastic by listening to the tone of their voice. Sarcastic comments usually sound a little lower and a little slower. Think of the exclamation, “Great!” Normally, it’s spoken in a quick burst at a fairly high pitch. If you win free tickets to a concert, you might be so excited that you shout “Great!” However, you might also say “Great.” if your car breaks down on the way to that concert, but your voice would sound sad and full of disappointment.
If you use sarcasm too frequently, it can make you sound like a grumpy teenager. It’s often used to say things that can be a little mean or unpleasant, but it can also be quite funny in the right places. Think of it as a particularly strong seasoning. Too much of it can ruin a meal, but adding just a bit can give it a nice spicy kick.