Humour based on flouting Grice’s conversational maxims in Ali Douagi’s "The Star-Gazer"


Cooperative Principle
Ali Douagi
The Star-Gazer

How to Cite

Hamdi, S. (2024). Humour based on flouting Grice’s conversational maxims in Ali Douagi’s "The Star-Gazer". The European Journal of Humour Research, 12(2), 74–86.


Attardo (1993) argues that humour in conversation is partly created by flouting or violating Grice’s Conversational Maxims. A few studies have probed the validity of this claim by investigating humour in literary texts (Amianna & Putranti, 2017; Al-Zubeiry, 2020). However, to the best of our knowledge, not one study has probed this claim on the basis of a Tunisian literary text. Situated within the theoretical framework of Grice’s Cooperative Principle (henceforth CP), this qualitative and descriptive study tries to fill this gap, at least partially, by examining humour in dialogue in Ali Douagi’s short story “The Star-Gazer”. The text is based on an interactional dialogue between a man and a woman. The study’s results suggest that utterances in the dialogue in this story flout the Maxim of Quantity by giving too much or too little information to the hearer, and are found to flout the Maxim of Relation by stating things that are irrelevant to the topic of conversation. Utterances are found to flout the Maxim of Manner by stating things that are long, unclear and ambiguous, but no flouting of the Maxim of Quality is found. The humour in the text is found to be, at least partially, determined by flouting Grice’s Conversational Maxims. As such, the study corroborates the claim that humour in conversation is, partly, determined by flouting or violating Grice’s Conversational Maxims. It is argued that this work contributes to pragmatics, humour research and literary criticism.


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