KnE Social Sciences | The 1st Annual International Conference on Language and Literature (AICLL) | pages: 599–608


1. Introduction

Conversational scene in Language as the vessel of day to day communication has drawn a distinctive nature from the rest of media communication. The involvement of speakers as interlocutors heightens the importance of language to convey various information. Since language is the product of culture, it presents different kinds of canon for people to cooperate and eventually reach the communication goals. Canons or rule in conversation is dubbed as conversational maxims. These conversational maxims were coined by one of the leading linguists Paul H. Grice which happens to be the prime student of Austin, one of the fathers of linguistic (Maeinborn 2011: 18). Therefore, conversational maxims, conversational implicature and maxims are inseparable elements of Pragmatics.

Many linguists believe that pragmatic tells us guidelines to understand conversations and their implicature. Having said that one's utterance can only be understood if both speaker and listener adhere to agree on the rules of conversation. Therefore, to achieve an agreed meaningful conversation, the participants of the conversation must follow some sets of regulation. In a daily life conversation, these sets of regulation are prone to be ignored and forgotten by the participants of the conversation. The participants are aware of the possibility of the miscommunication occurred during the conversation due to the misinformed participant unintentionally or intentionally, it's either the speaker or the listener who possibly committed this sort of deviation in conversation.

Novel as one kind of literature medium has exposed and literally brought sort of conversations in life to the scripted form. The colloquial of the language used amongst the characters regarded as more natural than any other literary forms. The conversation amongst the characters might describe myriad themes and settings which make it thematically diverse. Thus the language used amongst the characters is potentially subjected to the analysis of pragmatics. In the beginning of the 1970's, Pragmatics has paved its way to be classified as one the Linguistic studies even though it had been a very debatable issue amongst the linguists (Collinge, 2001). Despite the unwelcoming atmosphere or mere rejection, Pragmatic has begun to take it's fame for appearing in Linguistic textbook in 1980's, (Thomas, 1995: 1).

2. Literature Review

Pragmatics talks about meaning and its implicature. The meaning can be both well received by the hearer or be gone astray. The implicature is another thing. Speaker's implicature might be different with the hearer's. Thus, pragmatic appears to govern the ideal of good conversation. It's not too exaggerating if pragmatic is being simplified as the study of meaning and its implicature.


Implicature is often defined as the perceived meaning. This can be broadly stretched into the opponent speaker's understanding of the speaker's utterances or the meaning contained within the utterances spoken by the communicator to the communicant. Implicatures classified into conventional implicature and conversational implicature. Conventional implicature implies the words like but, even, therefore and yet (Thomas 1995: 57) in the example of “He has been studying very hard, therefore he got the letter of acceptance from Harvard university” therefore explains that in order to get the letter of acceptance from prestigious university like Harvad, one must study very hard. Conversational implicature shows the other way around, there has always been the context of a hidden meaning behind an utterance.

Cooperative principle

H.P Grice initiated the term cooperative principle. As a philologist, he advised that when more than one speaker involved in a conversation, each of them needs to follow the principles to engage the conversation smoothly. Grice elaborated cooperative principle as:

Make your contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged (Thomas 1995: 61-62)

Having said that, there is an unwritten rule that must be obeyed by every speaker in order to achieve and engage in a successful conversation. There is also assumption erected from every speaker to be able to grasp the whole idea of every utterance, because every speaker could have different cultural background that apparently could hinder or avoid the mutual understanding. Therefore everyone must not be selfish and shall be cooperative.

Conversational maxims

There are four conversational maxims as suggested by Grice. The first maxim is the Maxim of Quantity. Maxim of quantity requires your utterance to be informative and “don't make your contribution more informative or less informative than is required” (Thomas 1995: 63). The second one is Maxim of Quality. This maxim urges the speaker to talk something true and talk based on facts. The third maxim is Relation. This maxim requires the speaker to talk about something relevant with the topic of the conversation. The last one is maxim of manner. This maxim asks the speaker to contribute something briefly, orderly and to avoid something ambiguous.

Non observance of maxims

The non observance of maxim occurred when the speaker doesn't follow the rule of the conversational maxims. By breaking the rules of the conversational maxim, the hearer or communicant will implicate their own meaning and understanding. Hence, this contributes to the unsuccessful communication. According to Grice, there are five ways of failing to observe the maxims (Thomas 1995:64): Flouting a maxim, violating a maxim, infringement, opting out and the last is suspending a maxim. This study will only focus on flouting a maxim. Flouting a maxim can be defined as a deliberate action to disobey the cooperative principle of being informative, true, brief and relevant as. Flouting a maxim also signals to the hearer that the speaker is not following the cooperative principle (Cruse 2000:360). Flouting of a maxim eventually divided into:

  • Flouts that exploit the maxim of qualityThe maxim of quality is being flouted when a speaker deliberately says something that is untrue or for which the speaker has inadequate evidence.

  • Flouts that exploit the maxim of quantityThe maxim of quantity is being flouted when a speaker deliberately gives more or less information than is needed.

  • Flouts that exploit the maxim of relationThe maxim of relation is flouted when a speaker is giving a response or making an observation that is deliberately not relevant to the topic that is being discussed.

  • Flouts that exploit the maxim of mannerThe maxim of manner is flouted when a speaker deliberately fails to observe the maxim by not being brief, using obscure language, not being orderly or using ambiguity.

Chick literature

Chick Literature according to Oxford Dictionary is defined as literature by, for, or about women; esp. a type of fiction, typically focusing on the social lives and relationships of young professional women, and often aimed at readers with similar experiences. The interesting part here is this fiction revolves around women readerships live in big cities with urban lifestyles and communal social and emotional love life.

Chick lit, the popular and potentially derogatory nickname of a genre written for women, about women, gained popularity after the success of Helen Fielding's 1998 novel Bridget Jones's Diary. Fielding's work inspired a new genre of literature written about the contemporary young woman; Bridget Jones captured the issues facing women in their twenties and thirties, and many other authors began writing in Fielding's style. Although Bridget Jones received praise from both sexes (“Even men will laugh,” proclaims the Salman Rushdie blurb), these novels are mostly marketed to the young women they portray. One can recognize a chick lit novel by its cover, which usually depicts illustrations of shoes, martini glasses, or lipstick tubes drawn in pastel colors. (Cooke 2006: 11)

Maureen in her thesis gathers and elaborates the fact about the development of chic literature in the world. Here she highlights about the fact that chic literature is quiet a new genre that captured the story line of women in their thirties facing various issues of love, desperation, broken heart, betrayal and etc. The architecture of love by Ika Natassa echoes this illustration as the main character dubbed as Raia has undergone a tumultuous event in her life after she was being divorced by her husband. Her job as a novelist requires her to write another novel that she barely finds any single idea to start, she eventually moved to New York, the city where she finally regained the courage to start all over again.

Identification of flouts

The prime objective of this study revolves around the non observance of flouting maxim occurred in the novel of architecture of love by Ika Natassa. Furthermore, I would elaborate and identify some selected excerpts from the novel. The first example exemplified the flout of maxim of manner. In this example, Raia (the main character) was being asked by her best friend Erin about the progress of her writing her new novel which replied by Raia ambiguously of not giving erin a brief answer of how many pages she has written.

(1) Erin: dapat berapa halaman tadi (how many pages you have written today?)

Raia: “zilch. This damn writer's block is killing me” (flouting of maxim of manner)

In example (2) the maxim of manner is being flouted as well. The conversation occurred between Aga (the supporting character) and Raia (the main character) addressed Aga's curiosity of Raia's stay of duration in New York, this actually considered as a normal question addressed by an acquaintance but Raia obviously didn't give a precise respond as expected and this actually has created an implicature which makes the participants look for an additional set of meanings (Thomas 1995:71)

(2) Aga : Mau sampai kapan di New York? (till when will you be in New York?)

Raia: Belum tahu. Sampai bosan, mungkin. (I don't know yet, maybe till I get bored) (flouting of maxim of manner)

Example (3) exemplified the flouting of maxim of quantity. Erin (the supporting character) furiously asked Raia what happened between her and River (the male main character) but Raia deliberately gave a very less information. This is because she didn't want to reveal any information which for her not really important.

(3) Erin: So what's going on between you and Aga last night?

Raia: Nothing (Flouting of Maxim of Quantity) P. 26

Flouting Maxim in Example (4) identified as Maxim Quantity. These scene taken when both main male and female characters exchanged their names for the first time even though they had met before in new year's eve party. Raia was being befuddled when she heard the word `river' as she noticed there was no river in the background, while River flouted the maxim of quantity for limited information he exchanged, knowing that his name is unpopular for Indonesian standard. This apparently caused Raia's exclamation of trying to ensure what she heard by saying Ha? Or simply translated (Pardon me?)

(4) River: Terima Kasih. Raia, Kan? (Thank you, you are Raia, aren't you?)

Raia: Yes

River: River

Raia: Ha? (Pardon me?) (Flouting of maxim of Quantity) P.33

In Example (5) Raia asked River the purpose of his staying in New York City which had been replied by River with unsatisfactory answer. Here river committed to give less information. The information given is not enough for Raia to comprehend it at a direct level.

(5) Raia: Di sini liburan? (Are you here for holiday?)

River: Semacam itulah. (Yes, that sort of thing) (flouting of maxim of quantity) P.39

In Example (6) River asked Raia where are they heading for which replied by Raia obscurely. Raia committed the flouting of maxim of manner by saying something ambiguously. Raia intentionally let River to choose the place simply because she is new in New York City.

(6) River: Kamu maunya ke mana? (where do you want to go?)

Raia: I'm tagging you along, so I'll just go whenever you want to go. (flouting of maxim of manner) P. 45

The exchange information occurred in example (7) involved Raia and her best friend Erin. Raia was obviously curious to dig more information of River by camouflaging it through series of questions about Aga (River's Brother) through Erin. What Erin didn't know was Raia expected that she would say something about river which she didn't mention about him at all in her long-winded explanation about Aga. Here Erin committed to flout maxim of quantity for being too excessive in giving the information.

(7) Raia: Oh, gitu? Udah berapa lama? (Oh I see, for how long?)

Erin: dari kuliah. Aga itu dulu anak NYU. Dari kuliah sampai sekarang udah kerja kayaknya hampir tujuh tahun kali, ya. Udah New Yorker beneran dia. Kalau dari Twitter-nya nggak ketahuan dia New Yorker, isinya ngaco ngaco mulu, nyebut nyebut New York aja gak pernah. Lo Follow deh, @pempekboy, lumayan hiburan kalau lagi stress. (Since he was in college. Aga went to NYU. He has been working for almost seven years here. He has become so New Yorker. But if you see him from his twitter you won't believe he is a New Yorker, he never mentions about New York even once, his tweets are so goofy. You just follow his account, @pempekboy, it's pretty entertaining, especially when you get stressed). (flouting of maxim of quantity) P.71

In Example (8) Raia's editor was asking her the progress of her writing. As an editor in a renowned publicist company, an editor has an authority to ask about the next project of any author she/he works with. Hence when Raia replied her question by giving a veiled answer, she has committed to flout the maxim of quantity.

(8) Editor: Naskah lo udah sampai berapa halaman sih? (How many pages have you written in your script?)

Raia: Rahasia (It's a secret) (flouting of maxim of quantity) P.79

Example (9) exemplified flouting of maxim of quality. In this conversation, Raia confirmed River that he must have known her taste if someday she asked him to design her a house (River is an architect). River responded this by giving a comic effect of saying something untrue or impossible to happen. River answered by saying he would design her house with Shake and Shack (a Fast food chain restaurant) in front of it. River has flouted maxim of quality.

(9) Raia: Jadi, seandainya aku minta kamu untuk mendesain rumah buat aku, kamu udah bisa `baca' aku kira-kira sukanya yang gimana? (So, if one day I ask you to design my house, you have known my taste, haven't you?)

River: Pokoknya yang ada Shake Shack di depannya (the one with shake shack in front of it) (flouting of maxim of quality) P. 85

Example (10) also exemplified the flouting of maxim of quality. Raia previously has stated that in Chinese philosophy, we can find all answers by listening to the mighty still water. Then she asked river what kind of answer he is looking for by staring the water so seriously. River's response was something goofy and of course he was joking to Raia by saying he was looking for a lottery number.

(10) Raia: Jadi kamu lagi nyari jawaban apa, Riv? (So, what answer are you looking for Riv?)

River: Nomor Togel (Lottery number) (flouting of maxim of quality) P. 88

3. Discussion

The data collected by the excerpts of the conversations take place in the novel of The Architecture of Love by Ika Natassa are 185 excerpts. These excerpts were analyzed each by looking at the flouting of maxim committed by every character. Here I only showcased the flouting of maxim committed by the lead characters in the novel: Raia and River. It is discovered that River as the male leading character flouted the maxim of quantity as much as 30 times, followed by flouting of maxim of manner, flouting of maxim of relation and the least is flouting of maxim quality. Meanwhile the female leading character flouted the maxim of quantity more than 20 times, followed by the floating of maxim of manner, relation and quality. Surprisingly these two characters have so much in common of flouting the maxim. Both of them flouted the maxim of quantity more often than others. This indicates that these two characters tend to give less information to one and another or at the same time occasionally give more information than required.

Figure 1

Flouthing if Maxim committed by The Lead Characters.


4. Conclusions

Non observance of maxim has always been occurred in any communication ways. When the speaker and listener engaged in one meaningful conversation, the speaker or the communicator might commit to ignore the cooperative principle deliberately or non deliberately. In a designated form like Fictional novel, the way the authors put and instil the writing technique will reflect to the implicature contained within. This can be analyzed through Pragmatic and Conversational implicature in particular. Analyzing the non observance of maxim in novel will bring an interdisciplinary subject of linguistic with stylistic altogether to create more elaborative study. Further research might be useful to enrich the insight of this discussion. Furthermore flouting of the conversational maxim can be used to delve into someone's characteristic and features in using the language.



Brumark Å., Non-observance of Gricean maxims in family dinner table conversation, Journal of Pragmatics, Year: 2006, Volume: 38, Issue: 8, Page: 1206-1238. DOI: 10.1016/j.pragma.2005.03.014


Cooke, M. L. (2006). The Great Escape: Modern Women and Chick Lit Genre. Boston: Boston College University Library.


Cruse, D. A. (2011). Meaning in Language: An Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Maeinborn, Claudia, von Heusinger, Klaus & Portner, Paul. (2011). Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.


Natassa, I. (2016). The Architecture of Love. Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama.


Paltridge, B. (2013). Discourse Analysis: An Introduction. London: Bloomsbury.


Thomas, J. (1995). Meaning in Interaction: An Introduction to Pragmatics. London: Longman.



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