Someone ends a paragraph with "You don't often associate California with good looking women."
Later some Californian pretends to be offended, and the first person says, I was being sarcastic. I do associate California and the movies etc. with good looking women.
I trust him that he was kidding in the first sentence, but was the first sentence sarcasm? Is sarcasm the right word?

Somehow, I'm not sure.
Offhand, it seems to me, that sarcasm is a negative statement expressed in positive-sounding words.
His first sentence would have been a positive statement in negative-souding words.   What does one call that?

I don't know what one calls that, but it doesn't seem like sarcasm to me.

Posters should say where they live, and for which area they are asking questions. I was born and then lived in Western Pa. 10 years
Indianapolis 7 years
Chicago 6 years
Brooklyn, NY 12 years
Baltimore 26 years
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Someone ends a paragraph with "You don't often associate California with good looking women." Later some Californian pretends to be ... What does one call that? I don't know what one calls that, but it doesn't seem like sarcasm to me.

Not in the original sense of sarcasm, which refers to a bitter gibe or taunt, a biting remark, often, as you say, expressed in positive-sounding words.
He was actually being ironic, saying one thing and meaning the opposite.

James
Someone ends a paragraph with "You don't often associate California ... calls that, but it doesn't seem like sarcasm to me.

Not in the original sense of sarcasm, which refers to a bitter gibe or taunt, a biting remark, often, as you say, expressed in positive-sounding words. He was actually being ironic, saying one thing and meaning the opposite.

Yes, but that is true only in BrE. AmE irony is expressed by the following example:
Ironically, Sir Arthur Sullivan is remembered for the comic operas he found embarrassing, rather than the serious works he hoped would be his legacy.
Quite a different thing.

Skitt (AmE)
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Not in the original sense of sarcasm, which refers to ... actually being ironic, saying one thing and meaning the opposite.

Yes, but that is true only in BrE. AmE irony is expressed by the following example:

The first someone was British. I violated my own rule in not mentioning that, but I forgot that my sig history didn't apply to the speaker here
So in British English, in the example at the top, could sarcasm include the use of negative words to express a positive meaning? That if readers could understand that it was meant to be positive, that would be sarcasm?
Ironically, Sir Arthur Sullivan is remembered for the comic operas he found embarrassing, rather than the serious works he hoped would be his legacy. Quite a different thing.

Posters should say where they live, and for which area they are asking questions. I was born and then lived in Western Pa. 10 years
Indianapolis 7 years
Chicago 6 years
Brooklyn, NY 12 years
Baltimore 26 years
Yes, but that is true only in BrE. AmE irony is expressed by the following example:(snipped)

The first someone was British. I violated my own rule in not mentioning that, but I forgot that my sig ... express a positive meaning? That if readers could understand that it was meant to be positive, that would be sarcasm?

What I've seen in a.u.e is what the others told you, that the British use "sarcasm" to mean something really cruel and biting, and "irony" to mean saying the opposite of what they mean, for humorous effect. On the other hand, Californians (and a great many Americans) use "sarcasm" to mean saying the opposite of what they mean, for humorous effect, and "irony" to mean the surprising-yet-fitting-twist-of-fate thing. You can imagine how confusing this gets.
Now you tell us that a Brit said the opposite of what he meant, not in vicious cruelty, and later called that sarcasm. I can only think of two reasons. Either the word has more meanings in the UK than I am yet aware, or, possibly, the Brit (either from personal acquaintance or from newsgroups or from living abroad) had learned that the Yanks he was speaking to would understand the US word "sarcasm" better than the UK word "irony."
Does this fit?

Best Donna Richoux
A Californian living in the Netherlands
(snipped)

The first someone was British. I violated my own rule ... it was meant to be positive, that would be sarcasm?

What I've seen in a.u.e is what the others told you, that the British use "sarcasm" to mean something really ... can only think of two reasons. Either the word has more meanings in the UK than I am yet aware,

In BrE the word "sarcasm" can be modified to soften the meaning.

A Google search for
"gentle sarcasm" site:uk
finds only 540 results but many on the first page are from mainstream national newspapers and other mainstream sites. There is no sense that it is a quirky concept.
or, possibly, the Brit (either from personal acquaintance or from newsgroups or from living abroad) had learned that the Yanks he was speaking to would understand the US word "sarcasm" better than the UK word "irony." Does this fit?

Peter Duncanson, UK
(in alt.english.usage)
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(snipped)

The first someone was British. I violated my own rule ... it was meant to be positive, that would be sarcasm?

What I've seen in a.u.e is what the others told you, that the British use "sarcasm" to mean something really cruel and biting,

Well, not associating California with good-looking women is an insult but it's not really cruel or biting. I don't see California crying.
and "irony" to mean saying the opposite of what they mean, for humorous effect.

In a later post, after I challenged the notion it was sarcasm, he referred to "sarcasm or irony". After I read the reference to irony here, I referred to "sarcasm or irony" too.
On the other hand, Californians (and a great many Americans) use "sarcasm" to mean saying the opposite of what they ... only think of two reasons. Either the word has more meanings in the UK than I am yet aware, or,

Or possibly he misused the word also by British standards.
possibly, the Brit (either from personal acquaintance or from newsgroups or from living abroad) had learned that the Yanks he was speaking to would understand the US word "sarcasm" better than the UK word "irony." Does this fit?

I don't know. I found your post very informative, but I'm confused by two words, two hemispheres, and several definitinos.

Plus Peter's post changes things a bit also.

Posters should say where they live, and for which area they are asking questions. I was born and then lived in Western Pa. 10 years
Indianapolis 7 years
Chicago 6 years
Brooklyn, NY 12 years
Baltimore 26 years
What I've seen in a.u.e is what the others told ... more meanings in the UK than I am yet aware,

In BrE the word "sarcasm" can be modified to soften the meaning. A Google search for "gentle sarcasm" site:uk finds only 540 results but many on the first page are from mainstream

Peter, I copied nd pasted your search terms,
"gentle sarcasm" site:uk
into google and I only got 32 results. When I display with the "very similar entries" included, it goes up to 39. I've limited my results to English, Hebrew, and Spanish, but I can't imagine that made much difference**. Especially since this ia a UK only search and the search terms are English. **For example, wWhen it can't find many results in those three languages, it still gives results in Chinese or Japanese.
**I should run the search without that limitation, but I'm tired.
national newspapers and other mainstream sites. There is no sense that it is a quirky concept.

I did see hits from the Guaridan, the Telegraph, classic book club, that use the term gentle sarcasm.
So you're saying that's what the guy I quoted, in the OP, used? (I felt the need for commas, because "in the OP used" sounded funny.)
Peter Duncanson, UK (in alt.english.usage)

Posters should say where they live, and for which area they are asking questions. I was born and then lived in Western Pa. 10 years
Indianapolis 7 years
Chicago 6 years
Brooklyn, NY 12 years
Baltimore 26 years
A Google search for "gentle sarcasm" site:uk finds only 540 results but many on the first page are from mainstream

Peter, I copied nd pasted your search terms, "gentle sarcasm" site:uk into google and I only got 32 results. When I display with the "very similar entries" included, it goes up to 39.

That illustrates something that many people have already noticed: that Google frivolously changes the answers depending on who is asking. Someone at Google must have noticed that people were using the counts, and decided to throw a spanner in the works.
I got 544 hits, and my only surprise is that that's a close match to what Peter got.

Peter Moylan, Newcastle, NSW, Australia. http://www.pmoylan.org For an e-mail address, see my web page.
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