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A Study of the Verbal Humor in Two Broke Girls from the Perspective of Cooperative Principle

本站原创   发布时间:2018-12-30   [点击量:997]  


语用学的合作原则在日常对话中起着重要的作用,人们往往通过故意违反某一原则以达到幽默的效果。本文以合作原则为理论框架,探讨了美剧《破产姐妹》中的言语幽默。在分析该剧最新一季人物对话的基础上,指出:(1)《破产姐妹》中言语幽默的实现都违反了合作原则,即分别违反了数量原则、质量原则、关系原则和方式原则;(2)在违反合作规则的频率上,违反质量原则的次数最多,占64%;其次是关系原则,占18%;然后是数量原则,占11%;最后是方式原则,仅占7%;(3)作为合作原则最为可及的目标,说话人往往通过违反质量原则以达到幽默的效果。通过[这是原因吗?

作为合作原则最为可及的目标,说话人往往通过违反质量原则以达到幽默的效果。]对《破产姐妹》着人物对话分析,有助于我们加深对合作原则的认识与理解,也可以进一步推动和深化美剧中幽默话语的研究,从而为跨文化交际提供有益的借鉴。


关键词:合作原则;幽默效果;话语分析;《破产姐妹》


1.Introduction

Two Broke Girls has been updated to the sixth season since its released in 2011. Its verbal humor is popular with audiences around the world, and its humorous dialogues have attracted the interests of many English lovers. There are many dialogues which are produced by violating Grice's cooperative principle, and some of them are analyzed from the perspective of violation of cooperative principle. This will not only help English lovers understand the verbal humor in English, but also promote the development of pragmatics.


1.1 An Overview of Two Broke Girls

Two Broke Girls is a sitcom that premiered on CBS from Sept. 19, 2011. It was created by Michael Patrick King and Whitney Carmine, and it was produced by Warner Bros. TV.

Set in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City. It tells the story of two urban girls from completely different backgrounds. Max (Kate Dillins) was born in a poor family. Caroline (Beth Beale) was born in a wealthy family. However Caroline's family forced her to work in a restaurant where Max worked for money. The two young women discussed to raise $250000 to start a new business together.

There are 6 main people in it. Max Black is a waitress from the lower class and a nanny for a New York celebrity. She is realistic, bold and sarcastic girl, and she is good at cooking cupcakes. Caroline Channing became a poor girl from a wealthy girl. Caroline is an enthusiastic, self-confident girl with full passion for her life. She is popular among the audience. Earl who used to work in music industry is the cashier of the restaurant. He is 75 years old and adopt Max Who regards him as a father. Oleg who is an Ukrainian is the chef of the restaurant. He often flirts with Caroline and talks sex and directly words with Max. He loves Sophie, and they are married. Han Lee is the restaurant owner. He is a Korean. He has read law for two years. He often thinks different ways to attract guests for the restaurant. Owing to the shorter one, he is often laughed by others. He is weak, but kind and caring. What is more, he is very keen to be fashionable. Sophie who is a Polish is Max and Caroline's neighbor. She is kind to Max and Caroline and very fond of Max's yellow snippets. A cleaning maid company is operated by her so that she is a rich women. She has a dream of building a villa by the lake in Poland. She is very popular in the United States. When she appears on the scene, there are great cheers.


1.2 A Review of Verbal Humor

The explanation of humor in modern Chinese dictionary is ‘interesting or ridiculous’. It means ‘meaningfully’. Lin Yutang talked about humor in his book that ‘the most popular humor’ belongs to the richness of the glory and wisdom. Special conversational implicature explains how listeners understand their meaning through the surface, thus expressing another meaning, and humor often arises at this time. (Grice 45) Among the various kinds of patterns of language, humor is the most abundant pattern. Humor is a kind of wisdom. It processes language to get unexpected effects and creates a humorous and relaxed atmosphere. Humor helps to shape the characters, makes them more vivid and three-dimensional, and creates a relaxed and witty atmosphere at the same time.

Recently, Humor plays an indispensable role in our daily life. Without humor, our life will become dull and tasteless. Humor can break the awkward situation and make our bodies and minds happy. It is an kind of blender to resolve human contradictions. It's an elegant spiritual activity and amazing form of human behavior. Humor is especially irreplaceable in human communications. It is mainly through some kinds of rhetoric means and contexts to achieve humorous effects, such as puns, debit, analogy, hyperbole, euphemism, imitation and so on. 

As the main form of humor, humor language generally exists in our daily life. The usage of verbal humor allows people to inspire ideas and communicative feelings. It also helps to narrow distances in laughter. Since Grice put forward the Cooperation Principle in 1976, verbal humor has become an important part of linguistic research and a profound influence on the development of pragmatics. It opens a new chapter for the development of pragmatics and thus becomes a central topic of pragmatics. The most effective communicative result can be achieved by following the Cooperative Principle. However, violation of Cooperation Principle will have implications. Therefore, in order to produce humorous effects in humorous discourse, sometimes people advisedly violate some principles of Cooperative Principle to produce humorous effects.


2. The Cooperative Principle of Pragmatics

2.1 The origin

The Cooperative Principle was put forward by Grice who was an American philosopher and linguist. He was first known in William James speech in 1976 at Harvard University. Part of the speech was published in 1975 under the title Logic and Conversation. In his speech, Grice suggested that both sides in the conversation must abide by some basic principles, especially the so-called principle of cooperation to ensure the smooth progress of the conversation. Some years later, the relationship between users and signs that indicate the relevance of pragmatics to literature, since authors and readers of literary texts are language users. (Levinson 25).

Moreover Pratt(1977)makes a statement that there is no valid reason to assume that language stops being itself when it enters a literary work. Then,“The shift between the linguistic system and the cultural system makes the disciplines enable to extend their study fields ”(Shen 85).

In China, there were many people contributing themselves to the pragmatics. Translate Topic Two of Pragmatics: Conversational Implicature in 1896 that had an great influence on academia. .At this time, Cooperative Principle arose the great concern. Also, Chen Rong (1985) and Xu Shenhuan(1993) who have made great contributions. In the recent years, explore the philosophical origin of Cooperative Principle and get great achievements. 

2.2 The Classification

Grice assumed that the communicative partners always follow the cooperative principle in conversations, and the utterances in the conversation had meanings, such as the examples given bellow. However, in the process of further conversation, the speaker was not allowed to violate the principles. Sometimes the speaker did not pay attention to the apparent violation of these principles; in order to express his intention, he deliberately flouted them on the surface when the obedient party determined that the other party still adheres to the Cooperative Principle. The reason why the speaker violated the principle is to attract the hearer's attention, to ask the hearer not to make a general understanding of what he said, but to understand the implied meaning of it, and to guess the intention of the speaker by violating the principle.

In Logic and Conversation, Grice provided that human conversation should follow four rules, each of which also includes one or more rules.

a. The maxim of quantity

(i)What is said should satisfy the amount of information needed for the communications.

(ii)what is said should not exceed the amount of information needed for the communications.

b. The maxim of quality

Try to make what you say is right. It means that doesn’t say what you believe to be false and don't say some things without enough evidence.

c. The maxim of relation

Speak with relevance

d. The maxim of manner

Avoid obscurity, ambiguity and unnecessary prolixity. Be orderly.

In fact, the Cooperative Principle and its composition is expressed in an imperative tone, which misleads many readers to regard them as dogma. However, the Cooperative Principle is intended to describe the real situation in the conversation. That is in the actual conversation, something in our mind that is similar to the Cooperative Principle, and its principles are guiding us in subconscious way or unconscious way. We will try to express something right in a clear way, and people also try to absorb the information they receive in this way.


3. Verbal Humor in Two Broke Girls


Two Broke Girls premiered by CBS in 2011 sitcoms. It won the art guidance award at the 2012 Emmy Awards ceremony. Two Broke Girls set at a fast food restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, USA. The two waiters are Caroline and Max. Caroline fell in the middle of the family, and Max had a rough life. Because they were working in the same place and had same destiny, they became friends. The verbal humor in the play often makes the audiences laugh. This paper takes the Cooperative Principle as the theoretical framework to analyze the humorous dialogue in Two Broke Girls. Moreover, explore their real intentions from their words. Just as Leech mentioned, speakers usually “mean more than what they say”(Leech,1983)

3.1 Created by Flouting the Maxim of Quantity

In the process of interpersonal communication, speakers should provide sufficient resources and enough effective information which should neither too much nor too little, or it will flout the maxim of Quantity. However, the American comedies always choose to violate the maxim of Quantity to get the verbal humor and their real intentions. There are two types of strategies: more information and less information. Here come four examples.

(1). Han: Let an expert through. It's brown, somewhere between coffee and burnt sienna, cleaned hastily with a combination shampoo-body wash Mm, this hair belongs to a single white man alone, and not by choice, but so set in his ways. 

Customer: Okay! It's mine! 

There is a customer in the store who finds his hair in his food. So Max, Caroline, Oleg and Earl all gather around and look around him. They finds the hair isn’t themselves. Then the customer says he just wants his money back. Han comes over and looks at it. Apparently he finds the hair belonged to the customer, but he doesn't end it. He goes on and says that the owner of the hair doesn't like to wait. He is teasing the liar, and the cheater doesn't take the initiative to confess. This actually exceeds the amount of information needed in communication.


(2). Bartender: You feeling the buzz yet, son? You should. I only use pure Colombian cocoa. Strongest in the city-- actually, in the state. I just didn't want to brag about it. It's one of the greatest things about me. It's one of the greatest things about me.

The bartender mixes a cup of hot cocoa to Han and asks him how he felt. Then he says some self-praise. In this dialogue, the bartender only needs to give Han a cup of hot cocoa, but he says a lot of words. He wants to prove that his cocoa is delicious and the greatest cocoa. But as a customer, Han doesn’t want to listen that words. This actually exceeds the amount of information needed in communication. 


(3). Max:What is this?

Han:Look at all the practice ducks. I've drawn. The American Wood duck. The Harlequin duck. The Spot-Billed duck. A mallard. A mallard, a mallard, a mallard.

Han shows off the pictures that he has been up all night to participate in the competition, and then adds a series of names to the pictures. That exceeds what Max wants to know. And Max is upset by this stream of messages. This actually exceeds the amount of information needed in communication. In fact, Han is so excited because he had spent the whole night working out the pictures, and he wants to show them to others. His subtext is that I painted it all. Look how good I am. 


(4). Max: So do you know the president?

Caroline: I have met him.

Max: He is hot?

Caroline: He is the president.

Martin Channing used to a millionaire, and he is also very famous all over America. Mark thinks his daughter must have met many famous people including her never have a chance to see. So after she knows Caroline has met their president, she asks her whethe their president is hot or not, because she thinks he is hot. Caroline only gives her answer that he is the president. The information she offers is less than is required, so she flouts the maxim of quantity.

3.2 Created by Flouting the Maxim of Quality

It is very common to experience the situation where the verbal humor is produced by flouting the maxim of quality. When speakers say something false, such as lies, or speak with traditional figures of speech, such as metaphor, irony and hyperbole, which means that they flout the maxim of quality. There are some differences between the content of the discourse and the actual situation. Here come four examples.

(5). Max: Mama's greatest accomplishment. Maple vanilla runs cake with a raspberry cream cheese filling, and a white chocolate crumble. Also, there’s a ham in it.

Caroline: Can you have a contact heart attack from looking at something? Cause my left arm is tingly.

Max shows Caroline her burglar-sized cake, and Caroline exaggerates her surprise. You can get dirty disease by looking at it, and it makes your left arm sore. This exaggerated line flouts the maxim of quality and achieves the effect of humor.


(6). Caroline: Um, that was clam juice.

Max: Sure was.

Caroline has no interest in reading the book about mixing liquor at all, but she is unable to give up and smears her past glories. Therefore, she sits at the bar and asks Max to set some questions, but the result is not good. Then, she is mad to pick up a cup and drink. Max is surprised, because it was not wine but clam juice. Caroline was finished drinking, but she says she knows the truth that it is clam juice because Caroline is a proud person. It flouts the maxim of quality.


(7). Caroline: Here're some of the themed drinks we're working on. Almost Single Malt Scotch Resent-Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Shooters.

Max: Still debating the "Tequila" Him Would Have Been Easier shots. Oh, hate to break this meeting up, but I think my boyfriend's here. Yeah, he doesn't like to bother me when I'm working.

Caroline is introducing their audio to a couple, and Max breaks in. Then the door of the bar is suddenly opened. Max thinks it maybe her boyfriend to come, so she says that she hates to break this meeting up. However the door is suddenly closed. The fact is that wind is too strong to open and blow off the door, so she had to say her boyfriend doesn't like to bother me when she is trying to ease the embarrassment. This actually violates the maxim of quality. She says something false.


(8). Max’s ex-boyfriend:You smell nice.

Max: I've got a lot of jerky in my pocket.

Randy has a car accident, and Max is his emergency contact so that she is hurried to go to the hospital with Caroline. Therefore they met again and speak a lot. Although they love each, they cannot leave their own cities and the dear people who are around them, so they choose to say goodbye. After denying a kiss goodbye and goodbye hug, they choose to shake hands, and Randy says gently and affectionately,‘you smell nice’. However Max respond to him that it is because there’s a lot of jerky in her pocket. Obviously chocolate does not smell like this, and Max know the words she said are false. Therefore, it violates the maxim of quality and achieves the humorous effect.

3.3 Created by Flouting the Maxim of Relation

The maxim of relation is aimed at realizing the application of politeness in communication. Grice put forward the maxim of relation because of the limitation of cooperation principle. It can be explained as the differences between literal meaning and practical meaning. But due to the complexity of communicative activities, sometimes the cooperative principle has to be flouted. To some extent, the Cooperative Principle is put forward in order to explain the meanings in the words. Although people follow the cooperative principle in communication, due to politeness and practical needs, the speakers may deliberately flout the maxim of relation in order to realize the smooth progress of the communicative activities. Here come four examples.

(9). Customer: I ordered a steak, and this is a dirty washcloth.

Sophie: You want me to heat it up?

Max, Caroline and Han go out, so Sophie acts as a waiter. One of the customers orders the steak, but he finds that there is a dirty rag on the plate. Then he asks Sophie for help, but Sophie says, "You want me to heat it up?" It is contrary to the demands of the customer. In Sophie's understanding, the dirty rag is considered as a cold one, and it needs to be heated. Therefore, it violates the maxim of relation.


(10). Bartender: Hey, where's Max? A bunch of us are going to Chili's after class.

Caroline: Max is sick, but I'm totally free.

Bartender: Mm, reservation's only for ten.

Max does not come to class because she has been infected with chickenpox by Han. The teacher sees her without coming, so she asks Caroline. The teacher wants to invite Max to take part in their after-school meal. Caroline tells the reason and says that although Max is ill but she can go. The teacher does not say yes or no, but says reservation's only for ten. In fact, the teacher does not want Caroline to participate in their activities. Ten people do not include her. Due to politeness and practical needs, the speaker may deliberately flouts the maxim of relation in order to realize the smooth progress of the communication activities.


(11). Sophie: Oh... Oleg, you're here.

Oleg: Sophie, you're here. Oh, I was so worried. What happened?

Sophie: To my churro? Well, yeah, it got wet.

When he goes home and finds Sophie and the babysitter is gone. Sophie will get hot when the weather is bad. Suddenly Sophie opens the door and walks in. Oleg is very excited and surprised. He asks if there is anything wrong with Sophie, and if there anything has happened. However, Sophie replies that“To my churro? Well, yeah, it got wet” . The answer has nothing to do with the question. Sophie says this because she is panicked and suddenly does not respond properly. Due to politeness and practical needs, the speaker may deliberately flout the maxim of relation in order to realize the smooth progress of the communication activities.


(12). Caroline: We have a site?

Max: I hope there are no nudies of me on it 'cause Larry Flynt owns the rights to my image.

When the man says he could find an E-mail from the website, Caroline is very excited and asks for Max. However Max does not answer yes or no but says a bunch of unrelated words. It is not clear that whether there is a website, but she hopes there is no nude photo of her on the website. Actually she has a confidence that she thinks that the website will employ her photo. Therefore, it violates the maxim of relation and creates the verbal humor.

3.4 Created by Flouting the Maxim of Manner

The first three rules are all about the content of the conversation, while the maxim of manner is concerned with the way the information expressed, and the maxim of manner refers to the ambiguity, inaccuracy, and disorganization of what is said. Here comes three examples.

(13). Caroline: That's RuPaul! From RuPaul's Drag Race! We love your show. We used to watch it through our neighbor Jeff's window. But then he met Dean, and now all they do is cook naked. So we just watch that now.

When Caroline sees Luboro coming in and wears a red suit, she is particularly surprised and greeting to him. Then, she says a lot of words. Obviously, there is a lot of verbosity. She goes from showing her love to Paul to the naked man next door. It's against her thoughts. It flouts the maxim of manner. 


(14). Han: Looks like someone's in the weeds and not just smoking it for a change. Don't just kneel there, bring these drinks out.

Max: I have to learn all of math in ten minutes.

Han: All right, I'll stay. But only because I want you to see how it feels when the shoe is on the...Serve the damn drinks!

At night only Max in the bar. Caroline goes out with a man alone, so the scene is chaotic and busy. Han leaves the restaurant and goes to their bar. When he sees the situation, Han decides to stay there and help her. But he says too much and it is not concise. In fact Han feels complacent and finds the weak aspect of Max who used to be ridiculed to him. She needs help now. It flouts the maxim of manner.


(15). Earl: What's going on here?

Han: Nothing.

Earl: I know a shady deal when I see one. I was one of the loudest voices against the Louisiana Purchase

Earl finds out that Han, Sophie, and Oleg who is a herd of horses and pedestrians are there. Then he feels something wrong and asks. Han is afraid that Earl will find out their way of making money, and he has to take a share. Therefore he answers nothing, but Earl has found it. After expressing that he knows a shady deal when he sees one, he stresses that he is one of the loudest voices against the Louisiana Purchase. In 1803, the US government purchased more than 2.14 million square kilometers of land from France and doubled the size of the United States, which was opposed by many people. Therefore it violates the maxim of manner. Earl is meant to express that he has known everything, but his words contain the necessary prolixity.

4. The evaluation of Cooperative Principle in Two Broke Girls

Two Broke Girls, which has been updated to season six since it had been popular with audiences around the world for its ubiquitous humor and the humorous dialogue. The TV play has attracted the interests of many fans.Among them, the dialogues bring humorous effect of flouting the Cooperation Principle.This section will analyze the frequency of four maxims of Coopreative Principle to explore the inclination and the reasons for it.It also has important enlightenment to the general English lovers.

4.1 The Frequency

According to the analysis about Two Broke Girls, we find that frequencies of four forms which violate the Cooperation Principle to reach humorous effects. As seen in the figure 1, the frequency of flouting the maxim of quantity is 11 percent. The frequency of flouting the maxim of quality is 64 percent. The frequency of flouting the maxim of relation is 18 percent. And the frequency of flouting the maxim of manner is 7 percent. 

20181230145207269

Fig.1 The Frequency 

And then after analyzing the latest season of Two Broke Girls from the Cooperative Principle of Pragmatics, we know the humorous dialogues of the main characters in Two Broke Girls violate Grice’s Cooperation Principle to create verbal humor, which helps to produce a strong humorous effect. Thus it can be seen that violating the Cooperative Principle can produce verbal humor. Two Broke Girls, is a good case to study verbal humor in violation of the Cooperative Principle. It also has important enlightenment to the general English lovers.

Firstly, most of dialogues are based on flouting the Cooperative Principle. At that time, their conversations are easy to understand. But if their conversations all follow the cooperation principle, the conversations will be dull, boring, hard, and tasteless in a play. Both parties must not only be able to understand other direct meanings but also to succeed in grasping the implication of the words. Good conversations must combine the formal meaning of the words obeyed cooperative principle with the words obeyed cooperative principle. That can reach humorous effects. The vast majority of English learners should study Grice's Cooperative Principle and relevant pragmatic knowledge. Knowing how to see essence through phenomena can help us to use dialogues flexibly in understanding linguistic knowledge.

Secondly, using the violation of the cooperation principle to create humor in people's daily conversations often causes embarrassing. In this case, the speakers should try to ease the atmosphere through words As we all known, foreigners are usually more open than Chinese, so when we are making friends with foreigners, we should be as lively and humorous as possible like foreigners.

Thirdly, culture is an important element to understand the American humor. Sometimes you take knowledge of the maxim of quality, quantity, relation and manner. You even cannot know the humorous pot. You never live in that city and feel the culture so that you are not capable of smiling when the humorous pots appear. We should constantly improve our understanding of cultural knowledge. Chinese students sometimes have difficulties in understanding English conversation due to the lack of corresponding knowledge and culture crashes. Turn to different backgrounds, this requires English lovers consciously learn about the history, geography, culture, and religion of America. After that, English lovers can understand the true meanings of the American humor further.

4.2 The Inclination[根据摘要第三点修改这一部分,可以举例子讲为何质量原则容易被违反!!!]

As seen in figure 1, We can find that in Two Broke Girls, the frequency of flouting the maxim of quality is the highest to reach humorous effects. In other words, the maxim of quality, the most accessible goal among four principles, is usually violated to obtain humorous effect. Several reasons can account for this result.  


5.Conclusion

People do not always abide by the Cooperative Principle in actual verbal communication, and people will deliberately violate it. This paper attempts to make a specific analysis of the dialogues and contexts in Two Broke Girls on the basis of the theories related the Cooperative Principle of Pragmatics selected from Two Broke Girls to convey that the Cooperative Principle plays an vital and irreplaceable role in linguistics by analyzing the Two Broke Girls.

 I use the latest season of Two Broke Girls to study the recent American humor. In my study, the innovation of the thesis is that it is based on the perspective of Cooperative Principle of Pragmatics to study the verbal humor in the dialogues and contexts of Two Broke Girls and comparing the using times of the maxims under the Cooperative Principle to get the relevant conclusion.

Lastly, the thesis makes a discourse analysis of dialogues among actors in Two Broke Girls, making the whole meaning of the conversation be understood with real instances, and thus the hearers can infer the underlying meaning from the superficial level. After analyzing the dialogues in Two Broke Girls, we find the frequency of flouting the maxim of quality is the most frequent maxim by statistics.


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