The Occurrence of Humour Due To The Non-Observance of The Gricean Maxims in 'My Boys' Season I.


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Apabila kita menonton sebuah drama komedi, penggunaan bahasa merupakan salah satu unsur yang menimbulkan efek lucu, selain daripada kekonyolan tingkah laku para pemain. Bahasa itulah yang terkadang mengandung makna lebih jauh dari sekedar kata-kata yang terucap oleh pemain, sehingga dapat memicu terjadinya kesalahpahaman di pihak lawan bicara. Pragmatik adalah ilmu yang mempelajari makna/tujuan pembicara dalam suatu percakapan dan konteks tertentu.

Dalam tugas akhir ini, saya menganalisis ujaran pemain dalam drama komedi My Boys yang merupakan salah satu drama komedi asal Amerika Serikat. Saya menggunakan pendekatan pragmatik, yaitu teori bidal dari Grice, serta teori-teori humor sebagai pedoman untuk menganalisis ujaran-ujaran tersebut. Bidal adalah teori yang membantu pembicara untuk dapat berkomunikasi dengan singkat, tepat, jelas dan benar. Keseluruhan teori ini sangat tepat untuk diaplikasikan dalam proses analisis yang bertujuan untuk menyingkap faktor terjadinya humor karena suatu ujaran.



Maranatha Christian University pertama, flouting a maxim, dan jenis pelanggaran kedua yaitu violating a maxim, merupakan jenis pelanggaran yang paling sering ditemui dalam analisis ini. Saya menyimpulkan bahwa dalam kasus ini pelanggaran terhadap teori bidal Grice merupakan salah satu faktor yang penting dalam menghasilkan efek humor dalam film komedi.



Figure 1: Jerry Suls’ schema of “A Two-Stage Model for the Appreciation of Jokes and Cartoons.” ... 16




1 ... 20






No Data Kind of Non-Observance of


dog today, or you broke up with


44 2.

Metallica on your radio show today, or

you broke up with Wendy. (3)

(Then they go to her bedroom and make



Cleavage Creek from Napa County, Old

Style from Poboleda-Priorat, PBR

favourite wine. Later, Mike and his new

girl friend comes to that Café and meet

with them. While they are talking, the

waitress come back)

Waitress : Ya, we don’t have whatever


46 Red.

Andy : Uh, where is it from?

Waitress : The Bar! (10)

Andy : Hmm …

(10) Flouting the Maxim

of Relation and



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1.1 Background of the Study

In daily life, we always interact with other people to have a social relationship and to exchange some information. The interaction can be done through communication by using language. “Language is the expression of thought, with the

translations of notions into words being the act of understanding” (Atkinson). Basically, communication is divided into two: verbal (communication with words)

and non-verbal communication (communication by gesture). In the process of a direct contact between the speaker and the hearer, the two kinds of communication usually

happen at the same time.

“Effective communication will occur if the hearer understands the exact

information or idea that the speaker intends to transmit” (Communication and



Maranatha Christian University utterance, which causes misinterpretation to occur. For example, it can be seen in the

utterance ‘It’s hot in here”. Here, the speaker may actually not merely say the literal

meaning that the weather is hot in that room. The speaker may also generate an implied meaning to suggest an order or hint to make someone open the window in

order to get fresh air. Hence, there is a possibility that the hearer is not aware of the existence of the implied meaning because the hearer interprets the utterance


There can be some consequences if the hearer misinterprets the implied

meaning within a given utterance. If the speaker and the hearer are in a serious situation, anger or annoyance can emerge. On different occasions, humor can arise from the misinterpretation of the implied meaning or implicature.

Such misinterpretation of implicature that leads to the occurrence of humour can be analyzed by using Gricean Maxims. Gricean Maxims consist of the maxims of

Quantity, Quality, Relation, and Manner (Thomas 63).

Gricean maxims are included in the scope of Pragmatics, which is a study of speaker meaning through their utterances. According to Grice, there are four

conversational maxims to be obeyed by a speaker in order to produce a brief, clear, truthful, and relevant utterance. Thus, there will be no implicature when the four

conversational maxims are obeyed (63-64).

However, what possibly happens is that a speaker may fail to observe the four conversational maxims, which is caused by certain reasons. The speaker may fail to



Maranatha Christian University Another possible reason is the incapability of the speaker to understand the language

used. It is also possible that there are certain professions which prevent them from cooperating with their conversation partner(s) or they cannot say what they want to say because of the influence of certain cultural aspects in the society or beliefs


For my thesis, I would like to analyze the failure to observe the Gricean

maxims that leads to the occurrence of humour. In analyzing the humor, I take a comedy TV series, My Boys, to be the source data in this thesis. I take My Boys TV

series because I am of the opinion that movies can be more easily understood. Besides, I am more interested in something visually displayed because it is easier for me to comprehend the story. Furthermore, the clear conversation has an important

role in assisting me to follow the plot of the story. I choose to analyze a comedy TV series for it is more entertaining.

There are six main characters in My Boys TV series. They are P.J. Franklin, Bobby Newman, Brendan Dorff, Kenny Morittori, Mike Callahan, and Andy Franklin. They are good friends and the stories are based on their daily routines and

their relationships with their loved ones. They often fail to observe the Gricean Maxims. This leads to the funny situation in the movies. Thus, the topic of my thesis

is the occurrence of humour due to the non-observance of the Gricean maxims in My Boys season 1.

The significance of my study is that by reading this analysis, the readers will



Maranatha Christian University to make the conversation run effectively. I also believe that by reading this analysis

the readers will be able to know the steps that need to be done when they are involved in any conversation. I hope that the readers will be more careful with what they say because it may potentially creates some effects.

(735 words)

1.2 Statement of the Problem

In this thesis, there are four problems I am going to analyze:

1. Which category of non-observance of the Gricean maxims does the utterance belong to?

2. What type of Gricean maxims does the speaker fail to observe?

3. What is the implicature found in the speaker’s utterance?

4. How does the non-observance of the maxims in each scene create humour?

1.3 Purpose of the Study

This thesis is done to show the following points:

1. To show the category of non-observance of the Gricean maxims the utterance

belongs to.

2. To show the type of Gricean maxims that the speaker fails to observe. 3. To show the implicature which is found in the speaker’s utterance.



Maranatha Christian University 1.4 Method of Research

The first step in doing this research is searching for the situational comedy in the internet and watching My Boys TV series. The second step is collecting all the comical dialogues in which the four conversational maxims are not well observed.

The third step is classifying each data into the types of non-observance and conversational maxims. The last step is analyzing how the utterances lead to

humour and writing it in the research report.

1.5 Organization of the Thesis

This thesis is presented in four chapters. Chapter One is the Introduction, which consists of the Background of the Study, Statement of the Problem, Purpose of the Study, Method of Research, and Organization of the Thesis. Chapter Two is the

Theoretical Framework, in which all the theories used in analyzing the data are provided. Chapter Three is the analysis of the data. Chapter Four contains the



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In this chapter, I would like to draw some conclusion based on the analysis of

the non-observance of the Gricean maxims in My Boys season 1.

In the data which I have analyzed in Chapter Three, I find out that sometimes

a speaker produces an implicature behind his/her utterance and he/she also fails to

observe the Gricean maxims, namely: flouting the maxim and violating the maxim.

Flouting the maxim is divided into: flouting the maxim of quantity, quality, relation,

and manner.

From the ten data I have analysed in Chapter Three, I find eight data which

are included in the flouting the maxim. Furthermore, two out of the eight data shows

that the speakers flouts the maxim of quantity, quality, relation, and manner. Two

data shows the speaker flouts the maxim of quality and manner. Another datum



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flouting the maxim of relation. One datum contains flouting the maxim of quantity

and relation, one contains flouting the maxim of quality. In addition, there are two

data which shows that the speaker violates the maxim.

Through the data I have analyzed, I can see that the maxim of quantity,

quality, relation, and manner are mostly flouted. Flouting the maxim is done by the

speakers because they want their interlocutor to understand the implied meaning

instead of the utterances given. Flouting the maxim of quality is found on certain

conditions when they say something which is untrue or have less evidence, and when

they compare one event in their life with their daily routines. Therefore, it can also be

put into flouting the maxim of relation since their utterances are sometimes not

related to the topic they are discussing at that moment and do not answer the point of

the questions given.

Flouting the maxim of quantity is produced to express the speaker’s feelings

as well. It can be seen when they give either more or less information than the

situation requires. Furthermore, they do flout the maxim of manner when they give

response in an obscure way. In the case of violating the maxim, the speaker is

intentionally misleading the interlocutor for their own purpose and so the interlocutor

believes the speaker’s utterances. As a consequence, the interlocutor who is not aware

of their real intention are successfully misled.

In addition, infringing the maxim are not found in Chapter Three seeing that

the characters give their utterances not in the conditions of drunkenness or



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because the speakers do not suspend nor cover up anything, and they give their

responses freely without paying attention to ethical reasons among them.

After analyzing the data in Chapter Three, I conclude that the non-observance

of the Gricean maxims in the film is almost the same as what we experience in our

daily lives. Therefore, in order to have effective communication, a hearer must

understand the exact information or idea that the speaker is talking about. As a result,

in communicating with others, a speaker has to be as clear as possible and provide

adequate, factual, accurate and relevant information without having any implicature,

so that there will be no misinterpretation from the hearer’s side. Both the speaker and

the hearer must also share the same understanding of the phrases and the sentences

uttered, because each person may have different ideas from another.

However, in my opinion, the misinterpretation of the hearer and the failure of

the speaker to give a truthful, clear, and straightforward response in this comedy TV

series, plays an important role in creating the humorous effect. Furthermore, I think

the script writer prefers providing such utterances to show that the characters in their

youth, sometimes give their utterances without paying attention to the accuracy of the

information in it. Therefore, the language used also sometimes depicts the speaker’s

characteristics, whether he/she is strong-willed, not straight to the point, or reckless. I

also think that the non-observance of the Gricean maxims found in My Boysare used

to create the funny atmosphere, considering that this is a comedy TV series, so that



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Moreover, I would like to make the readers aware that the audience should be

more critical in what they watch or hear. Therefore, linguistic knowledge is required

to understand the utterances given including their implicature. Furthermore, in my

opinion, if the speaker and the hearer are involved in a humorous situation or

conversation, such non-observance of the Gricean maxims should be created as one

of the factors which makes the conversation become funny and not boring. However,

if the speaker and the hearer are talking about a serious thing, or if they are in a

serious situation, such non-observance of the Gricean maxims should be avoided so

as not to create the unexpected things, one of which is anger.

To end my thesis, I would like to suggest the researchers to take Pragmatics,

especially the maxim, as a topic for their analysis or thesis, which may often be

thought of as too easy by most people. However, when we examine it more deeply,

there are so many interesting facts that are found in everyday language used, and it is

not as easy as we thought. Therefore, I suggest to examine the language used in films,

whether comedy genre which causes humorous effect, or other genres that can lead to

conflicts, etc. By analyzing the use of language according to the setting of time and

place, as well as the interlocutor, we get many benefits, one of which is that we can

know the steps that need to be done when we ourself directly involved in any

discussion or conversation.



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Primary Texts

Thomas,Betsy,Dir. My Boys. Two Out Rally Productions, 2006. DVD


Atkinson, Philip. “Language Is Understanding.” A Theory of Civilization. N.p.

2009. Web. 12 Sept 2011.

Cahn, Steven. Classics of Western Philosophy. 6th ed. USA: Hackett Publishing

Company, Inc, 2002. Print.

“Communication and Leadership.” Performance, Learning, Leadership, &

Knowledge. N.p. 1997. Web. 22 May 2010.

Cook, Guy. Language Play Language Learning. Hongkong: Oxford University

Press, 2000. Print.

Dornerus, Emma. “Breaking maxims in conversation.” A comparative study of

How scriptwriters break maxims in Desperate Housewives and That 70’s



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McGhee, Paul E., Jeffrey H. Goldstein. Handbook of Humour Research. New

York: Springer Verlag, 1983. Print.

Thomas, Jenny. Meaning in Interaction: an Introduction to Pragmatic. London

and New York: Longman Group Limited, 1995. Print.


Figure 1: Jerry Suls’ schema of “A Two-Stage Model for the

Figure 1.

Jerry Suls schema of A Two Stage Model for the . View in document p.3