Violating Maxims with 'Friends'.

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 65
  • Published: November 25, 2005
Read full document
Text Preview
The objective of pragmatic study is to explain how language is used to effect successful communication and conversation .With the skyrocketing development of linguistics, so many scholars have constructed theories, such as Cooperative Principle, to conclude linguistic facts and regulate the right way to speak. However, not every people communicate with others according strictly to the theories. Most of these violations give rise to what Grice calls "conversational imprimaturs." In other words when we violate any of these maxims, our language becomes indirect.

Actually, in most cases, the utterances which violate the rules or the principles are able to achieve an unpredictable and incredible effect, particularly in humor and irony. The effect can be represented the ultimate in one of the most world-famous sitcoms named 'Friends'. The sitcom noted for its numerous humorous and funny conversations among six close friends fascinates the audients ranging from North America to Europe. To our surprise, most of impressive funny lines violate almost every maxims of the Cooperative Principle. In other words, it is the violation that adds to the effect of humor. There are a lot of typical examples appearing in it. But it is necessary to know the fundamental content of CP before analyzing the facts of effects by use of it.

Cooperative Principle, abbreviated as CP, is a general principle that means: in making conversation the participants must first of all be willing to cooperate; otherwise it would not be possible for them to carry on the talk. This theory was raised by a logician and philosopher, Paul Grice, who found that formal logic could not be applied to natural language. It goes as follows:

Make your conversational contribution such as required at the stage at which it occurs by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged. To be more specific, there are four maxims under this general principle:

The maxim of quantity:

1) Make your contribution as informative as required (for the current purpose of the exchange)

2) Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

The maxim of quality:

1) Do not say what you believe to be false.

2) Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

The maxim of relation:

Be relevant.

The maxim of manner:

1) Avoid obscurity of expression.

2) Avoid ambiguity.

3) Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).

4) Be orderly.

There are examples which are typical enough to show how a significant role the violation of CP plays in 'Friends'.

1. (After knowing Rachel, who has no idea of taking care of kids, taught his son, Ben, a terrible trick, Ross came to see her resentfully)

Rachel: Coming!

Ross: I have a bone to pick with you.

Rachel: Uh-oh.

Ross: Yes! Ben learned a little trick.

Ross said nothing but 'have a bone to pick with you'. Although it is not clear to learn by the sentence itself, we still find from the context that Ross was mad at Rachel. This is flouting the maxim of quantity.

2. Monica: All right, I am gonna go steam my wedding dress ok? Who wants the responsibility of making sure nothing happens to it?

Rachel: I will do it.

Monica: Who wants it? Anybody?

Rachel: I said I will do it!

Monica: Nobody wants to do it? All right I will do it myself.

Rachel: Monica! I am not gonna screw it up!

Semantically, it is obvious that Monica was repeating her meaningless question, because Rachel had answered the question. In fact, Monica's questions for the second and third time are the answers which fully show how unbelief Monica does of Rachel. She would like to do by herself rather than to accept Rachel's help. It is flouting the maxim of quality.

3. (When Ross and Joey had dating with the same girl, they began to humiliate each other)

Ross: Yes. And another time after that. Boy I am getting hungry! Hey Joey, have you ever been so hungry on a date that when a...
tracking img