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PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF HUMOR IN THE MANDMX COMIC STRIP Intan Kartika Sari (NIM 0808517) English Education Department,

Indonesia University of Education

Abstract - Such strategies are done by cartoonist to create humor effect on their comic.One way to create humor effect on the comic according to Attardo (1994) is by creating condition where the character on the comic break the Grice's maxim of cooperative principle while communicating with other character. When any of the four maxims is violated or flouted, misunderstanding or implicature, and thus humor might be generated. This study attempts to prove Attardos theory in the Mandmx comic strip. Keywords: the breaking of maxim of cooperative principle, comic strip, humor effect.

I. INTRODUCTION A comic strip is series of adjacent drawn images, usually arranged horizontally , that are design to be read as a narrative or chronological sequence (Brittanica). One example of comic strip is Mandmx comic. Mandmx comic is bilingual English-Chinese comic strip which is made by Magnus, an American Cartoonist from Western Massachusetts USA and Mingxing a local Shanghainese. Both of them made comics contain unique stories about the life of the expatriat living in China, their life experience and every interesting fact about China. Both of them catch the reality and made it into comic strip. Comic has several functions. According to Osho (2008) as cited by Afeez (2011) one of the Comic functions is to entertaining the reader. To entertain the reader the cartoonist usually try to make some humor on their comic and in creating humor effect the cartoonist, the writer of comic, usually used certain strategy in entertaining the reader. One of the strategies that is used is the breaking the maxim of cooperative principle. It is said by the Attardo (1994) that when any of the four maxims is violated or flouted, misunderstanding or implicature, and thus humor might be generated. On the previous research by Shuqin Hu (2012) which is analyzing humor in the Big Bang Theory, it is found that breaking cooperative principle strategy is proved to be very efficiently in creating humor effect.

This mini research is therefore, borne out of a desire to study the workings of pragmatics in Mandmx comic strip to discover how humor effect is generated by breaking the maxim of cooperative principle.


Cooperative Principle The cooperative principle is a principle of conversation that was proposed by Grice (1975). Grice points out that communication is a cooperative behavior. The basic assumption is that any discourse, whether written or spoken, is a joint effort. Both the speaker and the addressee have to follow certain rules in order to communicate effectively (do not provide more or less information than is required, speak the truth, be relevant, and be clear).This assumption is called Cooperative Principle The Conversational Maxims Grice proposed four maxims, they are; maxim of Quantity, maxim of Quality, maxim of Relation and maxim of Manner. These maxims are expressed to speakers as a rule how they should contribute to a conversation. a. Maxim of Quantity The rule of this maxim is to give the right amount of information. It demands a speaker to give information as informative as required, not too much or even too little. According to Grice (1975), this maxim is followed by two maxims (as cited from Grundy, 2008): 1.Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purpose of the exchange); 2.Do not make your contribution more informative than is required. b. Maxim of Quality The maxim requires true contribution. It deals with the quality of information that a speaker gives to his addressee. It is followed by two maxims (Grice: 1975): 1.Do not say what you believe to be false;

2.Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence (as cited from Grundy, 1995:96) c. Maxim of Relevance This maxim is followed by only one maxim, namely be relevant. This maxim requires the speaker to be relevant to the context and situation in which the utterance occurs. d. Maxim of Manner This maxim is a matter of being clear and orderly when conversing. The speaker describes things in order in which they occurred and avoids ambiguity and obscurity. It falls into more detailed maxims (Grice: 1975) 1.Avoid obscurity of expression; 2.Avoid ambiguity; 3.Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity); 4.Be orderly Non-observance Maxims Non-observance the maxims means that the maxims are not applied properly. This occurrence depends on speakers condition; they are perhaps incapable of speaking clearly, or because they intentionally choose to lie on order to achieve their communication purposes. There are some indications to describe the failure to observe the maxim.Regarding the nonobservance of the maxims, Jenny Thomas identifies five ways to observe a maxim based on Grice theory (1995), Flouting a maxim This non-observance occurs when a speaker fails to observe a maxim by generating an implicature of the utterances. In other words, a speaker who flouts a maxim expects the hearer to notice. This failure can be seen noticeably in the following example, A: I hear you went to the cinema last night, what movie did you see? B: Well, I watched a number of people line up for a ticket foe watching a magical witchcraft of Harry Potter.

In the exchange, B provides more information than is required. Whereas B can simply answer As question by saying I saw Harry Potter, this example indicates that B flouts Maxim by uttering the information unclearly. Violating a maxim This failure is perceived as the unostentatious non-observance of a maxim (Thomas 1995: 72). It means that when a speaker gives a tendency to violate a maxim, the hearer will be liable to mislead. The following example is given to identify the maxims violation: Jane and Robert is a couple for years. Jane has a best friend named John who is suspected having an affair with her. In fact, Robert does not realize that Jane has felt in love with another man, Tom. Robert : Please, tell me the truth..did you ever falling in love with John? Jane : Noof course not. Im not having affair with John.

Janes statement that says she is not having an affair with John is true, but not the whole truth. By saying this utterance, she covers the fact that she is having an affair with another man called Tom. This unostentatious violation of the maxim Quantity generates the intentionally misleading implicature that Jane is not having an affair with anyone. Infringing a maxim This type of non-observance occurs when a speaker has an imperfect command of the language, for example the speaker is a child or a foreign learner. The failure to observe a maxim happens because the speaker is impaired in some ways such as nerveousness, physical impairment, excitement or even cognitive impairment. Because of these reasons, speakers do not have intention to generate or deceive an implicature. The illustration given indicates that the speaker has infringed a maxim. In a speech contest, one of the contestants says some irrelevant statement to the topic of speech. She should explain about an educational program, but she in fact tells the significant role of a woman. However, she acts like this because she is nervous. Ladies and Gentlemenmmmm, this programeh, I think women have mmmmsome important role. Becausewell anyway

The contestant says these utterances nervously, so that she gives an irrelevant answer. Since the student fails to observe Maxim of Relation, she has infringed a maxim. Opting out of a maxim The speaker is considered to opt out a maxim if he or she does not only indicate an unwillingness to cooperate in the way the maxim requires, but also wish to avoid generating a false implicature or uncooperative conversation. The following example gives an illustration when a speaker opts out of observing a maxim. A: So, hows the search for the new principal and vice president going? Do you have a short list yet? B: I cant tell you anything about it; the proceedings of the committee are confidential. In the example above, B opts out the Maxim of Quantity in order to preserve confidentiality. B explicitly utters that she cannot give the requested information, as a result, the maxim cannot be satisfied. Suspending a maxim Suspending a maxim happens because of several factors. Culture-specific or particular events in a culture are the aspects that cause a speaker fails to observe a maxim (Thomas 1995). Thomas gives an example of this case as follows: The speaker is the daughter of a murdered man. She is talking to Officer Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, Last time you were with that FBI man-asking about the one who got killed, she said, respecting the Navajo taboo of not speaking the name of the dead. You find out who killed that man? (1995:76) The underlined utterance shows that the speaker fails to observe the maxim of Quantity by generating the implicature. In Navajo culture, mentioning the name of a dead man is taboo, so she is forbidden to mention the name. (Thomas, 1995).



This mini research used eight Mandmx comic strips to be analyzed. Comic strips are chosen purposively, only comic strips which have conversation in it that are chosen. The nine comic strips chosen tells story around the character, a Panda journalist (PJ) who interviewing people about current issue such as search engine used, drinking coffee habit and president election. The eight comic strips analyzed are: 2008-10-21 Google or Baidu or Yahoo, 2008-10-23 Google Baidu or AOL, 2008-10-24 Google or JUST GOOGLE, 2008-10-25 Google Baby, 2010-08-02 Chinese and Coffee 1, 2010-08-04 Chinese and Coffee 2, 2010-08-06 Chinese and Coffee 3, 2012-11-05 Panda News Network Interviews American Voters at the 2012 Election The data will be analysed using pragmatic approach. The element to be analyzed is non-observance maxim that is done by the character in creating humor effect on the comic strips.



1. Google or Baidu or Yahoo


: Hitting the streets in the U.S asking about search engine Google or Baidu?


: Yahoo. : No no Baidu : No. you're mistaken. It's yahoo. Google or Yahoo


: Panda Journalist ( PJ) Baidu Chinese Search Engine

On the conversation above between PJ and a Young Girl (YG), the young girl flout maxim of quality of conversation. YG should choose between Google or Baidu, but she blatantly said that she prefer use Yahoo, the search engine which is not included in the option.

2. Google Baidu or AOL PJ : Checking out what Americans think about search engines Google or Baidu? YB : What's that? I don't know that stuff.. I still use AOL

On this conversation A Young Boy flout maxim of manner and quantity. Instead of answering PJs question, he asked the PJ back about what Google and Baidu is. And his explanation about he is still using AOL violated maxim of quantity because PJ didnt ask him about that. 3. Google or JUST GOOGLE PJ : Talking to the locals here in the US of a asking about search engines Google or Baidu? A Man : Google or? There's no Google or..just Google

On this conversation a man flouts maxim of manner and quality. He didnt answer PJs question properly. He instead ask the PJ back about what he seemed has been understand, the word or that PJs uttered shown that PJ is giving him an option. Impossible for him to does not understand what is the word or mean. 4. Google Baby PJ : We're asking americans what they think of search engines.. google or Baidu? YB PJ YB : Which one is American? : Google is from America, Baidu is from China. : Then Google baby.

From the conversation above we can see that A Young Boy (YB) violated maxim of manner. Instead of answering PJs Question, he chose to answer the PJs question with another question which is the answer that is not wanted by PJ.

5. Chinese and Coffee I PJ : We're at Shangai Expo asking Chinese people about coffee!? Do chinese people drink coffee? A Man PJ A Man : No. : But you are drinking coffee now! : This is a cappucino

From the conversation above, the man answered no to PJ ask him whether Chinese people drink coffee or not. It violated maxim of quality, he should answer the PLs question with yes because he (Chinese) actually was drinking cappuccino, and cappuccino is one kind of coffee.

6. Chinese and Coffee II PJ : We're talking today to Chinese about coffee! Do you like to drink coffee? A Man : Coffee is very expensive. That's why i only drink Mr. Brown coffee! It's good! It's refreshing! Its in a can! PJ : Ah ya! he's a coffee salesman!

A man in the conversation above had shown us the flouting of maxim of relation. A man did not answer PJs question properly. Instead of answering PJs question, he prefers to talk about other matter, namely promote coffee that he sells.

7. Chinese and Coffee III PJ : We're talking to Chinese about coffee! What coffee do you like? YG : There are too many choices. there's starbucks. Fake starbucks. there's coffee bean. Coffee in a can, Coffee gum, coffee in a box

From the conversation above, a Young Girl (YG) violated the maxim of relation. Just like the case of Chinese and coffee II, the interviewee, YG, gave irrelevant answer to PJ. A Young Girl doesnt mention what coffee that she like, she instead tell the PJ many kind of Coffee in China. And that answer is not appropriate with the question of PJ. 8. Panda News Network Interviews American Voters at the 2012 Election PJ : I'm in America now interviewing Americans at he 2012 election polling place PJ A PJ B PJ C : who did you vote for? : I chose not to vote. I don't like any of the candidates : Please, who are you voting for? : Isn't obvoius? : Wait, who are you voting for? : Obamney! Obamney!

In the conversation above, there are three kind of non-observance of maxim which is done by three interviewees (A, B, and C). From the conversation between PJ and A, we can say that A flouted maxim of relation and quantity. A answered PJs question with irrelational answer. What PJ asked is who did A vote in the president election. He better said he choose no one rather than saying I choose not to vote. And As explanation about the reason why A didnt choose anyone is violating maxim quantity. Actually PJ didnt expect the A unnecessary explanation. From the conversation between PJ and B, we can see that B opted out the maxim of manner. He unwillingly answered PJs question. He didnt answer PJs question but asking PJs back about what hes really thinking. B felt that he did not need to answer that PJs already know the answer. From the conversation between PJ and C we can see that C violate maxim of quality deliberately. Cs answer is not really the answered PJs question. PJ expect C to tell PJ whether he choose Obama or Romney, chose only one of them, but C answered it by telling PJ that he chose both Obama and Romney (Obamney).

9. CONCLUSION From the discussion above we can conclude that in creating effect humor in the comic strip, the cartoonist made the character to utter such utterance that break the maxim of cooperative principle while communicate with other character. This strategy is proved helpful to the cartoonist to make humor effect on the comic.


Comic Strip. (2012, 12 14). Retrieved from Brittanica: Afeez, H. (2011). A PRAGMATIC ANALYSIS OF SELECTED CARTOONS IN VANGUARD NEWSPAPER. retrieved on 2012, 12 15 from Attardo, S. (1994). Linguistic Teories of Humor. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Grundy, P. (2008). Doing Pragmatics. london: Hodder Education. Hu, S. (2012). An Analysis of Humor in The Big Bang Theory from Pragmatic Perspectives. retrieved 2012,12 14 from 965 Thomas, J. (1995). Meaning in Interaction: An Introduction of Pragmatic. New York: Longman.