Flouting Grice’s Maxims in Some Selected Clean Jokes: A Pragmatic Study


  • Assist. Lect. Amel Kadhum Abed College of Education for Human Sciences / Department of English
  • Assist. Lect. Hiba Nadhim Jebur University: Wasit University College: College of Education for Human Sciences




Jokes are verbal forms that have humorous effect when told and their humorous effect causes laughing on the part of the listeners. One of the reasons that cause the humorous effect of jokes is flouting the maxims of the cooperative principle, known as Grice’s maxims. Grice’s maxims are seen as a type of agreement between the communicators to cooperate in communication. At the same time, they are not considered as rules. This research tries to explore which of Grice’s maxim(s) are flouted to create the humorous effect in jokes. It also tries to find out which maxim is flouted the most. The sample jokes were chosen randomly by the researchers and descriptive qualitative method is used to analyze the data accumulated. The analysis of the twenty clean jokes chosen is based on Grice's cooperative principle. The analysis shows that the maxim of quality is the most flouted as compared with other ones. And the maxim of relevance is flouted more than the maxim of quantity.  Similar researches can be conducted on other types and forms of humor or on other types of jokes.




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Appendix (1)

The Jokes Selected for the Analysis

Eve: Adam, do you love me?

Adam: Who else?

Passenger: Excuse me. How high is this plane?

Flight Attendant: About 30,000 feet.

Passenger: And how wide is it??

Officer: Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?

Soldier: Sure, buddy.

Officer: That’s no way to address an officer.

Now, let’s try that again. Soldier, do you have change for a dollar?

Soldier: No, sir!

An airliner flew into a violent thunderstorm and was soon swaying and bumping in the sky. One very nervous lady happened to be sitting next to a clergyman and turned to him for comfort. “Can’t you do something?” she demanded. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” said the reverend gently. “I’m in sales, not management.”

Did you hear about the first restaurant to open on the moon?

It had great food, but no atmosphere.

When was radio first mentioned in the Bible?

When the Lord took a rib from Adam and made a loudspeaker.

Teacher: Why was Adam a famous runner?

Student: Because he was first in the human race.

A bald man’s retort: “In the beginning God created all men bald. Later He became ashamed of some and covered them with hair."

How do you measure a snake?

In inches—they don’t have feet.

Why is Peter Pan always flying?

Because he Neverlands.

You heard the rumor going around about butter?

Never mind, I shouldn’t spread it.

Why were they called the “dark ages?

Because there were a lot of knights

What’s the best thing about Switzerland?

I don’t know, but the flag is a big plus.

What do you call a dog with no legs?

It doesn’t matter, it’s not going to come anyway.

Why does a chicken coop only have two doors?

Because if it had four doors, it would be a chicken sedan.

Where should you go in the room if you’re feeling cold?

The corner—they’re usually 90 degrees.

You know why you never see elephants hiding up in trees?

Because they’re really good at it.

What do you call a religious person who sleepwalks?

A roaming Catholic.

Why don’t blind people skydive?

Because it scares their dogs

Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?

Of course! The Empire State Building can’t jump.






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How to Cite

Amel Kadhum Abed, A. L., & Hiba Nadhim Jebur, A. L. (2022). Flouting Grice’s Maxims in Some Selected Clean Jokes: A Pragmatic Study. Lark, 14(5), 1075-1060. https://doi.org/10.31185/lark.Vol4.Iss47.2675