Violating Maxims with 'Friends'.

Essay by Lungs November 2005

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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...