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|A pragmatic study of the verbal humors of Sheldon Cooper in the big bang theory|
一、Rationale and Significance of the Proposed Study & Literature Review (Background)
1. Rationale and Significance of the Proposed Study
Humor is a very common phenomenon in people’s life and people alway use it for different reasons. Verbal humor is a kind a humor that was created by spoken language. Verbal humor is now a very important part of situation comedy (sitcom) which are mainly aim at making people laugh.
The big bang theory is one of the most successful sitcom in America. Recently, the actor Jim Parsons won the Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series in the 65th primetime Emmy Awards for the third time ( also in the 62nd and 63rd primetime Emmy Awards) for his outstanding performance as Sheldon Cooper in the big bang theory. In spite of his own acting skills, his verbal humor should take some credit for this achievement. This study is going to analyze the verbal humor of Sheldon Cooper from a pragmatic prospective so as to help the audience understand them better and provide some practical skills for the other sitcoms.
2.Literature Review (Background)
Researches on verbal humor have been done from different perspectives and there are three main theories of humor. Relief theory is made from the aspect of psychology. Relief theory maintains that laughter is a homeostatic mechanism by which psychological tension is reduced.( Meyer, 2000) Laughter and mirth, according to relief theory, result from this release of nervous energy. (Buijzen,2004).
The second one is Superiority theory. According to M.P. Mulder and A. Nijholt, he general idea of this theory is that a person laughs about misfortunes of others (so called schadenfreude), because these misfortunes assert the person's superiority on the background of shortcomings of others.(2002)
There is also a Incongruity theory. The incongruity theory states that humor is perceived at the moment of realization of incongruity between a concept involved in a certain situation and the real objects thought to be in some relation to the concept.( M.P. Mulder & A. Nijholt,2002)
二、Research Questions/ Aims and Objectives/ Problems to be Investigated
1. Research Questions
1) whether the verbal humor can be analyze from the pragmatic prespective.
2) how did Sheldon in the big bang theory create his verbal humor？
2.Aims and Objectives
1) prove that the verbal humor can be analyze from the pragmatic prespective.
2) show that Sheldon created his verbal humor by violating the Cooperative Principle and the Politeness Principle
3. Problems to be Investigated
1) it may not be easy to get the script of the TV series.
2) it may not be easy to chose the conversation from the TV series.
三、Methodology and Data Collection & Theoretical Framework
1. research method
2. Data collection
Pick up the humorous conversation in the TV series according to the laughter of the audience.
1) cooperative principle
The CP is that participants in conversation should “Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, and by the accepted purpose or direction of the exchange in which you are engaged.”(Grice: 44)
① The Maxim of Quality
Try to make your contribution one that is true, especially
(i) Do not say what you believe to be false;
(ii) Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.
② The Maxim of Quantity
(i) Make your contribution as informative as is required for the current purpose of the exchange
(ii) Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
③The Maxim of Relation
Make your contribution relevant.
④The Maxim of Manner
Be perspicuous and specifically:
(i) Avoid obscurity of expression;
(ii) Avoid ambiguity;
(iii) Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity);
(iv) Be orderly.
2) polite principle
The politeness principle is based on the assumption that conversational implicatures arising from the flouting of the maxims of the cooperative principle are, if not all, mostly for the sake of politeness.
i) Tact maxim
Minimize cost to other
Maximize benefit to other
2) Generosity maxim
Minimize benefit to self
Maximize praise of other
3) Approbation maxim
Minimize dispraise of other
Maximize praise of other
4) Modesty maxim
Minimize praise of self
Maximize dispraise of self
5) Agreement maxim
Minimize disagreement between self and other
Maximize agreement between self and other
6) Sympathy maxim
Minimize antipathy between self and other
Maximize sympathy between self and other
四、Outline of the Proposed Study
1.1 Rationale and Significance
1.2 Research Questions
1.3 Research Methods
1.4 Organization of the Dissertation
2. Literature Review
2.1 brief introduction of the big bang theory
2.2 previous research on the cooperative principles and the polite principles
2.3 Previous Research on the verbal humor
2.5 Merits and Demerits
3. Theoretical Framework
3.1 An Overview of the cooperative principles and the polite principles
3.2 Basic Concepts Related with the cooperative principles and the polite principles
4. Case Study
The analysis of Sheldon’s language.
张艳红( zhang， yanhong),《老友记》中言语幽默的会话含义分析, 硕士论文,东北农业大学，2013，
Berlyne, D. E. (1972). Humour and its kin, The Psychology of Humour , 1972:43–60
Grice, H.P, Logic and Conversation. From Cambridge University Press, 1975
Meyer, J. C. Humour as a double-edged sword: Four functions of humour in communication, Communication Theory, 10, 2000:310–331.
M.P. Mulder,&A. Nijholt ,Humour Research: State of the Art, 2002
Perspectives , Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 2, No. 6,
Shuqin Hu ,An Analysis of Humor in The Big Bang Theory from Pragmatic
Thomas c. veatch, A theory of humor, Humor II-2(1998), 161-215
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