Linguistics Senior Research Projects


“I’m Not Superstitious, but I am a Little Stitious”: The Flouting and Violating of Gricean Maxims in the Sitcom The Office

Document Type


Submission Date



Grice's Maxims, Cooperative Principle, Gricean Maxims, The Office, Humor Theory


This study addresses the ways non-observances of the Cooperative Principle (Grice, 1975) create verbal humor in NBC’s The Office (2005). Every instance of violating and flouting Gricean maxims in Season 4 of The Office is documented. The frequency of the non-observances in The Office is then compared to previous studies (Rundquist, 1992; Brumark, 2006) which document the frequency of non-observances in authentic human speech, and the ratio of male and female non-observances. The results show that The Office closely mimics authentic speech in terms of frequency of non-observances of Gricean maxims and the male and female ratio of non-observances. This study then analyzes the realistic dialogue of The Office through the lens of verbal humor theory, to examine how its use of violating and flouting the maxims is so successful at creating humor.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.