Idiomatic Expressions, Humor and Sarcasm in Social Settings

By looking closely at the comic above you can pick up on visual cues which make the
joke funny. In order for this joke to be funny, a person should be able to notice that the
dog is green, and wagging its tail rapidly with a rabid smile and wide eyes. You should
also be able to notice that the man in the picture is scared by looking at his body
language. It is as if you can hear in your head how he is saying the above statement with
pure fright. People with higher level language difficulties might not be able to pick up on
all the clues in the picture that make the joke funny. Higher level language refers to
abstract thinking, problem solving, metaphors, and the like. It includes components of
language that go beyond the basic mechanics. It is the nuances and subtleties of everyday
language. If a person has difficulties understanding sarcasm and humor, they might miss
much around them in their daily environment.

“Take everything she says with a grain of salt.” “She has a green thumb.” “It’s raining
cats and dogs out there.” We have all heard these expressions at least one time in our
lives. You can instantly draw the meaning from those sentences. The world around us is
filled with figurative language. TV sitcoms, advertisements, jokes, poems, movies,
riddles, and newspaper comics are some examples of everyday experiences in which a
person encounters humor, sarcasm, metaphors, similes, etc. However, someone with a
language disorder might have difficulty in truly understanding the real meaning behind
these statements. These individuals might comprehend these statements literally. A
middle school or high school student might encounter these figurative expressions in an
English class when interpreting the metaphors and similes in a poem. These students will
have a difficult time in understanding the meaning behind those statements which in turn
can lead to misunderstanding the poem as a whole. For this group of people,
socialization is extremely important. Having a language disorder can make relating to
peers difficult. At this age, adolescents begin to use sarcasm, jokes and inferences in
their everyday conversation. A literal interpretation of these expressions can cause the
individual to feel they are not part of the group, as they may interpret jokes or sarcasm

It is extremely important, especially for middle school and high school students, to
receive language therapy from a speech-language pathologist in order to improve their
higher level language skills. By improving this area, they will have an increased
understanding in academics as well as in their social circles.