Article published in:Metapragmatics of Humor: Current research trends
Edited by Leonor Ruiz-Gurillo
[IVITRA Research in Linguistics and Literature 14] 2016
► pp. 107–125
Lawyers, great lawyers, and liars
The metapragmatics of lying in lawyer jokes
This chapter analyses the pragmatic structure of lawyer jokes, specifically those based on explicit references to lawyers’ inclination towards lying and their ability thereto. Lying has been extensively studied as an indication that the Cooperative Principle has not been followed; however, the explicit reference to lying as a practice found in lawyer jokes has not received much attention. From a sample of lawyer jokes collected from various online sources, the metapragmatic mechanisms of non-truthful statements and lying are described from a double point of view: the social implication of lawyers as liars and a Gricean analysis of lawyers not following cooperative principles in communication. The analysis demonstrates how these can lead to humorous reactions, but also, to the construction and acceptance of a cultural stereotype that represents a given profession as a dishonest one. This study shows that lying is indeed a source of humorous effects, and that such results are not hampered by the explicit reference to lying. This seems to favor a new approach to the analysis of jokes whose success may be based on their explicitness, but also on a clear metapragmatic awareness.
- 1.Introduction: lawyers as the target of humor
- 2.Lawyer jokes and the language of humor
- 3.Lies and humor
- 4.Our analysis: let sleeping lawyers lie
- 4.1Explicit lying: labelling
- 4.2Lying and the maxim of quantity
- 4.3Lying and the maxim of quality
- 4.4Lying and the maxim of manner
Published online: 24 November 2016
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